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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid