Priest abuse victim Lawrence Grech welcomed Pope Francis’s zero tolerance stand against such “ugly crimes” and said he hoped the Vatican would not forget Malta in dealing with the matter.

“The Pope said he will be meeting about 70 victims of abuse from various countries next month and I hope Malta will not be forgotten,” Mr Grech told Times of Malta.

He said he did not expect the Pope to invite the Maltese victims. However, if the Holy Father decided to take action against bishops or members of the Church who closed an eye to child abuse by priests, this should also apply to Malta.

And, if the Vatican sent representatives to various countries to meet victims, he hoped they would also come here.

Mr Grech is one of 11 men subjected to years of child abuse by two priests in the 1990s.

The victims had a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Malta in April 2010.

If I am broken because of one of your members, you should try to see how you can help

He said yesterday the Maltese Church was not doing much to support the victims.

All it did was offer psychological support that came in the form of tranquillisers, he said.

Mr Grech was reacting to the Pope’s announcement he would adopt a zero-tolerance attitude for anyone in the Roman Catholic Church who abused children.

The Pope was speaking to reporters on his flight back to Rome after his Middle East tour. He compared the “ugly crime” to performing a satanic Mass and to the profanation of the Holy Eucharist.

In November 2012, Godwin Scerri and Charles Pulis – formerly members of the Missionary Society of St Paul who were subsequently defrocked – were sentenced to five and six years’ imprisonment, respectively, for sexually abusing boys in their care at St Joseph Home in Santa Venera in the 1990s.

In December 2012, the victims had filed a case for compensation in the Civil Court against the two former priests.

The Maltese Church has offered psychological support to victims but decided against giving financial compensation.

Citing legal advice, it said that, as an institution, it had no obligation to assume responsibility for the actions of clergy members. This ran counter to the Church’s position in several other dio-ceses abroad.

Mr Grech said he hoped the Pope’s words would translate into action.

He noted that, in February, the Maltese victims sent a letter to the Pope informing him that the Maltese Church was not supporting victims and there was reluctance by the Church to make good for the damages.

He said victims wanted the Church to reach out to those people who had been wronged by its members.

“We would like the bishops to approach the victims and understand how they can help those suffering the repercussions of abuse… at the moment, it’s us against them.

“This needs to change. If I am broken because of one of your members you should try to see how you can help,” he insisted.

When contacted, Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna, the former Vatican’s Promoter of Faith and Justice, reiterated that the Holy See supported the stand taken by the Maltese Church, that compensation should be paid by the people who committed the crime.

The Church offered its support, he said, adding: “The offer is always there.

“The victims were contacted by the religious order concerned.”

Speaking about the Pope’s statements, he said: “I think that the Pope’s statement is one of the most powerful as yet because it links sexual abuse on minors committed by priests to the profanation of the Eucharist, which is the most sacred sacrament of the Roman Catholic Church.

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