The provincial of the Maltese Dominican friars is refusing to answer Times of Malta questions on allegations of sexual abuse by one of its priests, Fr Charles Fenech. This newspaper has been chasing Fr Frans Micallef since last Friday, after the Order issued a statement saying it had repeatedly “warned” him and taken “steps” against Fr Fenech.
Fr Micallef’s curt reply was that he expected the statement he made last week to be published in full, and as it was not, he had nothing else to add. The statement was published on the front page of Times of Malta last Friday.
He said yesterday: “On October 30, I released an official statement on behalf of the Maltese Dominican friars about the case. I expected everyone to publish it as it was, in its entirety.
“Instead, everyone [the media] took what they wanted, twisted it and gave it their own interpretation. Considering this behaviour by the media, I am refusing to answer questions or add anything else.”
In the statement, the Order named Fr Fenech, 54, as the priest from Rabat at the centre of the allegations, saying it wanted to tell the public that he had been stopped from practising as a priest and had been removed as director of the Kerygma Movement.
This newspaper’s questions were in response to this statement, asking Fr Micallef to clarify how many times Fr Fenech was warned and when the first warning was given.
Fr Micallef was also asked why the Order had not taken action to stop Fr Fenech’s duties earlier when the Church had known about the case for a number of years. The Order only took action after the case was exposed in the media.
Fr Micallef replied yesterday as he had flown to Albania the day after releasing the statement. Several attempts to reach him in Albania or to speak to alternative sources in the Order or the Curia failed. One priest at the Dominican priory had retorted: “I cannot help you. Have some humanity... this is abuse.”
The Sunday Times of Malta broke the story about the priest to be charged in court after a woman claimed he sexually abused her during a relationship spanning a number of years. She alleged that the abuse took place while she was being treated at Mount Carmel Hospital.
Fr Fenech denies the claims. He has been summoned to court on three occasions but did not turn up, citing illness.