The Parole Board's decision to grant pedophile priest Godwin Scerri parole did not reflect the government's position, the government said in a statement today.

It added that it however respected the independence of the board.

Mr Scerri, a defrocked priest, was three years ago jailed five years after he was found guilty of sexual abuse on young boys in his care.

He will get out of jail on parole today.

Earlier today, the Church Commission for the Safeguarding of Children and Vulnerable Adults said that decisions on prisoners being granted parole were taken by the Parole Board.

The Curia said the decision taken by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in October 2011, by means of which Br Scerri was removed from the clerical state, remained unchanged.

Dismissal from clerical state is the most serious penalty leveled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Mr Scerri remains a member of the Missionary Society of St Paul.

He is also wanted by the Ontario provincial police in Canada having avoided prosecution there two decades ago when he fled to Malta.

When a priest is dismissed from the clerical state, or defrocked, he is automatically relieved of his offices and obligations and barred from celebrating the sacraments.

In its statement, the government said that the Parole Board was presided by a judge and worked in an autonomous manner.

Its decisions were not taken in consultation with the government and the government did not even have access to the board's reports on which these decisions were base, it said.

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