Victims of clerical sex abuse have voiced their disappointment at a Curia announcement that the Church, as an institution, bore no legal responsibility for the crimes - and hence will not pay financial compensation.

Lawrence Grech, whose public comments first revealed the abuse,  said he and the group of victims he represented were “utterly disappointed” with the Curia’s stand, adding that the matter will be taken to a civil court.

“I am disappointed how the Archbishop met us and apologised and said he felt humiliated and then offered us a sorry and psychological help. We don’t want that and we will take the matter to court,” he said.

“Our battle is just beginning. Just like the priests had said they were not responsible for what we were saying they had done, now we have the Church saying it is not responsible for this action. We will leave it up to the court to decide that.”

He said further reactions to the Church’s stance would be announced during a press conference tomorrow morning.

The Church’s decision not to reach an out-of-court settlement followed meetings between Mgr Cremona and the victim’s lawyer, Patrick Valentino.

At the end of the last meeting on September 7, Mgr Cremona had said that both parties were going to meet again a week later for their “final meeting”. This meeting, sources said, was held yesterday in a room within the precincts of the Law Court and the talks, unlike the other two meetings, did not include Mgr Cremona.

The Vatican’s chief prosecutor, Monsignor Charles Scicluna who had encouraged the victims’ lawyer to demand compensation, yesterday had no comment to make on the Church’s statement.