Pope Francis Defrocks Maltese Priest Who Sexually Abused 13-year-old
By Benjamin Abela
January 12, 2021
Pope Francis has accepted the Conventual Franciscans Orderís request to dismiss Donald Bellizzi, the Maltese priest convicted of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy, iNews Malta reported.
Last November, Bellizzi, a former Burmarrad Franciscan, was sentenced to three years in prison after forcing a minor to masturbate him.
Bellizziís offences first began in 2010, when he would invite youths interested in becoming priests on retreats to the Franciscan convent in Burmarrad. Investigations into the case were kicked off after the Curia received reports of the abuse.
Bellizzi was well-acquainted with the victimís family and visited his house a number of times after the abuse took place.
Bellizzi could only be deprived of his ecclesiastical status on order of Romeís Conventual Franciscans Order, and not by any Maltese church authorities, including Maltaís Archbishop.
This is because he formed part of a specific religious order and was thus not the responsibility of any local diocese.