Former Altar Boy in Australia Claims Abuse by Maltese Priest

Times of Malta
October 29, 2010

A former altar boy in Australia has launched a lawsuit against the Catholic Church alleging years of abuse by Maltese priest Fr Joseph Sultana.

The Weekend Post reported that in a special investigation it has uncovered a 20-year web of alleged sexual abuse and a repeated failure by high-ranking church officials to report the matters to police.

The Church also failed to remove the priest at the centre of the allegations from contact with children when they were alerted to the allegations of abuse, it said.

The former altar boy is also claiming subsequent failure to take any official action by fellow priests, nuns and one of Queensland's highest-ranking bishops.

In a sworn affidavit filed with the Supreme Court, the man claimed he was regularly abused while he was a student and altar boy at St Joseph's School and Church at Atherton by Father Joseph Sultana between March 1979 and November 1982.

The Weekend Post also revealed that another man who said he was abused by Fr Sultana at the same school and church in the early 1980s took his own life at his northern beaches home in 1998.

Fr Sultana left Atherton and moved to the Ravenshoe parish shortly after a fellow priest was told about the abuse.

He continued as a serving priest in the Diocese of Cairns for at least another 15 years before relocating to Malta, where he was born. He was ordained priest in 1962 and has also served in South America.

In his sworn affidavit, the Cairns man, now 38, said he and his wife revealed the abuse to Bishop James Foley in a phone call and a subsequent meeting was held at their family home in November last year.

He said Bishop Foley did not advise him to contact police, but Bishop Foley told The Weekend Post he did tell the man to report the abuse to police, the newspaper reported.

Cairns police are investigating the man's allegations and are awaiting information from the Department of Immigration to determine if the case against Father Sultana can proceed.

In his statement, the man said he told prominent Far Northern priest Fr Patrick McKenna about the abuse while it was still happening in 1981.

But Fr McKenna became angry at the then eight-year-old and accused him of lying before ordering him to visit a school nun, where he was caned several times for lying, he claimed.

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