News / Europe

    Pope Heads to Malta, Where More Sex Abuse Victims Await

    A day after turning 83 years old, Pope Benedict on Saturday embarks on his first trip abroad this year to the Mediterranean island of Malta. The weekend visit comes at a difficult time as the pope and the Catholic Church are dealing with mounting criticism over a child sex abuse crisis by priests. Abuse victims in Malta want to meet the pope so they can close a painful chapter in their lives.

    It will be Pope Benedict's first trip to Malta, which was visited by his predecessor John Paul II in 1990 and 2001. The pope is visiting the island over the weekend to commemorate the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck.

    But as criticism continues to mount over how the clerical sex abuse scandal has been handled by the church, there have been growing calls for the pope to make a strong gesture and meet with abuse victims on the island.

    A number of Maltese men who grew up in an orphanage run by the Missionaries of Saint Paul say priests molested them when they were teenagers. 37-year-old Joseph Magro is one of the victims.  

    He says his abuser was Father Charles Pulis who still works at a convent on the island. The priest is no longer allowed to say mass in public but is still free to mix with young boys and has not been convicted of any crime.

    "Every morning at 6, at quarter past 6, he came to my room and wake me with erotic kisses, he bite my lips and masturbate me. It was done for two years. And the incredible thing is that at 7 he celebrated the mass, the same priest," explained Magro.

    Like him there are others. Noel Demec was also at the orphanage and after his experience has great difficulty accepting anything about the priesthood. He says they were taken advantage of because they were children and could not tell anyone what was happening. They added that if they resisted sexual advances they would be have been made to leave the home, which was their only shelter.

    "The first problem is that we are poor people. We came from an orphanage without fathers and mothers. Most of the guys that were there were poor people, very poor people, the poorest in Malta. They are trying to blame us in the court every time we go to the court,"  Demec said.

    A civil case was opened against the priest in 2003 but little has occurred since then and the victims doubt they will ever see justice. They say the church in Malta is too powerful and that they have the best criminal lawyers who will fight to save their own.

    "After 7 years, nothing has happened, nothing has happened. In fact we go to court, we open our hearts and our case again and we feel sorry for things we haven't done," Demec complained.

    Lawrence Grech is one of the first victims of abuse to come forward in Malta. He says meeting Pope Benedict would mean a lot to him and to the others who suffered the same fate at the hands of the priests at the orphanage. It would also help those who have not managed to speak out and continue to live with their silence and hide their truth.

    "I want the pope do the same thing what he done in Canada, Australia, in Ireland. At least he do an apology, he meet the victims, at least," said Grech.  "No one can change my past, but if I meet the pope maybe things… I feel more spiritual. At the moment I lost my faith, at all. I don't believe in nothing, in nothing," he said.

    Benedict's previous meetings with abuse victims during trips to the United States and Australia in 2008 were not announced in advance. The Vatican's spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said such a meeting must be "in a climate of meditation and reflection, not under media pressure."

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.