The Catholic Church in Malta was as devious as the Mafia in covering up years of sexual abuse against orphans, one alleged victim said ahead of the Pope’s visit to the Mediterranean country on Saturday.
Pope Benedict XVI will arrive in Malta on his first overseas trip since a wave of paedophile sex abuse allegations engulfed the Church.
A group of 10 Maltese orphans, now in their late thirties, say they were sexually abused in the 1980s by the priests charged with looking after them. They believe hundreds of other Maltese boys and teenagers were also abused, but have been too afraid or ashamed to come forward.
“The Church on Malta is like the Mafia. It is very powerful, and people are afraid of it,” said Joseph Magro, 38, one of the alleged victims.
But seven years after they officially launched their complaint, the group claims they continue to face a wall of silence from the Church.
Among the accused is Father Charles Pulis, who still works in a Catholic-run institution adjacent to a boys’ school.
He is being investigated by a behind-closed-doors Church tribunal, which holds hearings only every four months.
“If a father abused his child like this, he would go straight to jail,” said a second alleged victim, who asked not to be named. “We want these priests to be punished as they used to punish us.”
A third member of the group said that an apology from the Pope would help heal the emotional scars of the abuse. “But we would only really be healed by seeing these priests go to jail,” said Lawrence Grech, 37.
The group has requested a meeting with the Pope, but the Vatican has said it is unlikely that the pontiff will be able to fit them in to his busy schedule during the 24-hour visit.
By Nick Squires in Valletta
Published: 6:00AM BST 17 Apr 2010
Source: The Telegraph
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