St Joseph’s Home has invited the clerical abuse victims to re-establish contact by revisiting, individually, the place where they had suffered the abuse, as part of their personal healing process.
Contact with most of the victims was never established, or was lost once legal proceedings began in October 2003.
In a statement almost two weeks after two of its members were convicted to a total of 11 years in prison, the Missionary Society of St Paul and the management and staff at St Joseph’s Home yesterday expressed their “numbing sense of sorrow for the pain caused to abused children during their time as residents.
“We share the general sense of outrage and betrayal that the home, set up as a sanctuary for the most vulnerable children in society, for some time, also became a place where they experienced abuse and harm.”
The statement pointed out that the case was first brought to the attention of the authorities by the home itself, leading to the suspension of Carmel Pulis, who has now been dismissed from the clerical state, the next day.
Through the direct intervention of MSSP Regional and General Superiors, those accused of abuse at St Joseph’s have never been in contact with the home again, it insisted.
One of the victims, who was still a resident at the time of the first allegations in 2003, was offered therapy sessions immediately after the reports, and opted to stay at the home until he turned 18, it pointed out.
The home’s care-giving setup has been overhauled since 2003, with trained lay care workers and professional social workers running the residential programme.
Today, it includes mandatory external supervision for staff, strict vetting of people working with the residents, clear physical and psychological boundaries, and transparent reporting structures to seek to eradicate the risk of harm to children.
Each child in care is monitored by two social workers, the residential social worker, and also a field social worker, assigned by the state social agency, Aġenzija Appoġġ.
The home hoped to find continued support for its mission of caring for children in need, in spite of this “very dark chapter in its history”, while it honoured the memory of many other MSSP members and volunteers, who have served with selfless dedication and integrity over the years.