Last week, the priests who back in 2003 were accused of allegedly sexually abusing children in their care, asked the Constitutional Court to enforce a press ban on the whole case.

A press ban means that the media would not be allowed to report nor comment on the case until it is concluded. It would not be able to mention names, report on developments, or in this case the lack of them. Technically this blog would not be published, and the victims would be gagged.

There’s already undeniable proof that with a media ban the case would be forgotten and allowed to drag on and on and on. You see, the priests had initially asked for this ban back when the case was initiated in 2003, and for seven long years there was hardly any mention of it. Most of us had no idea what was going on, we didn’t know that the accused priests were still roaming our streets, and still dressed as priests. Most had no idea what the alleged victims where claiming to have been put through, and little did we know that the priests had already admitted their wrongdoings to the police.

But just before the Pope’s visit last year, everyone, including the international press, blew the hush cover and spilled the beans all over the media. The alleged victims were given space to voice their anger and frustrations, the priests were mentioned by name, and Davide Carlucci of La Republicca practically published their police statements/confessions. Of course, none of this would have been necessary had seven years not already passed since the case first started.

Now, according to the priests’ lawyer, Giannella Caruana Curran, her clients’ right to a fair trial is being violated with all the media exposure. As disgusted as I am with this perverse move, I’m actually surprised it took the best criminal lawyers on the island, so long to get this loopy ace out from under their sleeves.

It took the Maltese Church's response team, seven long years, and a myriad of media pressure, to finally conclude that the victims’ allegations were in fact founded. In a letter dated 26th October, 2010, and signed by no other than the superior general of the Missionary Society of St Paul (MSSP), the alleged victims were told that their allegations were founded, and that the findings were being sent to Rome. Yesterday, almost three months later, the Vatican instructed the Maltese Church to set up a tribunal to conduct the judicial process into allegations!

So, in spite of the apologies and the tears that were spilled by Ratzinger when he met the alleged victims during his short visit to Malta, these men are still in the same place, going round in circles and getting nowhere. Now, they are also risking being gagged by an enforcement of the constitutional press ban on the case!

Yesterday, Davide Carlucci wrote about a personal letter which the alleged victims wrote to the Pope. Clearly frustrated and hurt with all these twists and delay tactics, the alleged victims once again pleaded with His Holiness to do something about their situation.

“The letter was written in pidgin Italian, and is contaminated with English influences”, says Carlucci, “but the message addressed to the Pope, is loud and clear.”

Whilst thanking the Pope for the time he spent with them during his visit to Malta, the alleged victims went on to express their deep sorrow and practically begged His Holiness to bring them some justice and peace.

"We are very disappointed,” they wrote, “because these priests are still roaming the streets, and still dress as priests. Why is the Maltese Church still protecting these scandals? How is it that the Church makes use of the best criminal lawyers in Malta? Why is it that these priests admitted to their crimes back in 2003 and yet things in the Maltese Church are still going on like nothing ever happened?” they ask the Pope.

Lawrence Grech who was the first of the alleged victims to have spoken publically about the case, fears that it will all end up being buried. "In Malta, the Church, political power and the judiciary are one thing” – he told Carlucci, “this is so true that a Minister came to court and testified in favour of the priests,” he added.

Against all common sense I am now hoping that there is in fact some form of afterlife, because from where I’m sitting, it will take another lifetime for these men to see some form of justice.

info@alisonbezzina.com

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