Outspoken priest Fr David Muscat was interrogated by the police over hate speech claims following a homophobic Facebook post he uploaded.
The post focused on alleged murder suspect, Abner Aquilina, with the priest speaking about the possibility that the aggressor was gay or bisexual or possessed by the devil. Muscat said that being gay was worse than being possessed.
Sources said Fr Muscat was called to the police headquarters on Thursday afternoon where he was interrogated over his posts and successive comments.
A spokesman for the police told Times of Malta that "the police investigates all allegations of a criminal nature that come to its attention".
It is not known whether the police will press charges.
Earlier, two ministers and activists had earlier urged police to take action against the Mosta priest for hate speech.
“A line has been crossed, and I ask the authorities to take the necessary decisions, because one cannot make remarks which incite hatred or negative sentiment against a section of society,” Equality Minister Owen Bonnici told One TV.
Inclusivity Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli in a Facebook post said she had asked the police to investigate and act against Fr Muscat for his obscene and homophomic remarks against persons who were LGBTIQ.
The Malta Gay Rights Movement said that alongside several other individuals and organisations, it had emailed the Police Commissioner attaching this and other instances of hate speech.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna, said he was shocked by the remarks and promised to take action against a priest over the homophobic comments. He also offered an apology on behalf of the Church to all gay people and their families, although he did not mention the priest by name.
“I want to apologise on behalf of the Church to all those who were hurt by these harsh words, and their mothers and fathers who also feel betrayed by the church they love," he said.
The Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning within the Faculty of Education at the University of Malta also condemned the "deplorable homophobic remarks" expressed by Fr Muscat.
"These hostile comments incite hatred and clearly promote an attitude of prejudice and contempt towards the LGBTIQ+ community. The Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning denounces such hate speech which, clearly, is motivated by attitudes of hostility towards human diversity and calls for responsible action towards such deplorable behaviour by religious and civil leaders alike," it said.
No stranger to controversy
Fr Muscat is no stranger to controversy. In November 2019, he resorted to anti-migrant rhetoric.
At the time he had likened the influx of foreigners coming to work in Malta to an “invasion” and had repeatedly stoked fears that foreigners would soon outnumber Maltese.
Without naming the cleric, then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said at a political activity that he had spoken to the archbishop and expressed his disappointment that the Church was allowing a person from within its structures to legitimise racial hatred.
The Curia said it did not comment on meetings and discussions between the Archbishop and his priests but said the views of Archbishop Scicluna on the need to welcome and help migrants was clear and followed on the teachings of Pope Francis.
Earlier in summer 2019, Fr Muscat was seen on camera praising Nazi sympathiser Normal Lowell, who has been convicted of inciting racial hatred.
He said Mr Lowell has “sowed a seed that will bear fruit in the future”.
Back then, the Archbishop had said that the Church dissociated itself from Fr Muscat’s views.
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