Child abuse allegations have put the Church under a cloud all over the world.
A total of 84 allegations of child abuse, involving forty-five Maltese priests, were reported to a Church response team over the last 11 years, The Times reports today.
The response team was set up in 1999 and receives reports from both the Maltese and Gozitan dioceses, a spokesman for the Curia said.
He would not divulge the nature of the cases, saying the response team’s work was carried out in confidence.
The spokesman said disciplinary actions are always taken by the bishops or major superiors of religious orders when allegations are proven.
The spokesman did not say how many of the priests investigated had been found guilty of child abuse or whether any priest had been dismissed or banned from celebrating Mass and hearing confession.
However, he said the judge presiding over the response team in such cases informs the alleged victims of their right to follow their case civilly.
The only cases in which proceedings could not be followed were those in which the persons who lodged the report did not substantiate their claims to the response team, the spokesman said.
Asked whether the Maltese dioceses could say with certainty that they did not know of any priest accused of any form of child abuse who was currently working with children, the spokesman said: “The dioceses can ensure every alleged case that is brought forward to the response team is investigated to ensure any case of abuse is stopped by removing the perpetrator from pastoral ministry related to the nature of the abuse”.