Msgr. Charles Scicluna returns to Malta from Rome where he has been the Vatican’s chief prosecutor of clerical abuse cases since 2002. He will be auxiliary bishop of Malta.


Reports in the media suggesting that Monsignor Charles Scicluna’s recent appointment as Malta’s auxiliary bishop was an effort to sideline a vociferous voice in the Vatican have been described as wide of the mark.

Msgr. Charles Scicluna,recently transferred from Rome to Malta to assist the archbishop of Malta, Paul Cremona (pictured below) as an auxiliary bishop

Msgr. Charles Scicluna,
recently transferred from Rome to Malta to assist the archbishop of Malta, Paul Cremona (pictured below) as an auxiliary bishop

The Spanish daily paper La Vanguardia, the Italian online newspaper and the Italian website have all published pieces questioning the motives behind Msgr. Scicluna’s transfer to Malta from his office in the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — where Scicluna was a critical figure in pushing forward the investigation into allegations of abuse of seminarians against the late founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel, who died in 2008 at the age of 88.

But according to sources close to both the Vatican and Msgr. Scicluna, conspiracy theorists are wide of the mark.

As Promoter of Justice at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Scicluna was known for his no-holds-barred approach to dealing with cases of clerical sexual abuse.

He has now been tasked with helping to run the Maltese diocese, with Archbishop Paul Cremona reportedly having been forced to cut down his workload due to health problems.

The transfer was described as “disconcerting” by, which praised Scicluna for his “zero-tolerance” approach to investigating clerical child abuse claims.

“From heading the global Catholic Church’s anti-pedophile squad to a low-level functionary in Valletta — transferred without even being promoted,” was the Italian news outlet’s verdict.

A editorial linked Scicluna’s transfer to the recent commotion surrounding the trial of the Pope’s former butler for stealing sensitive documents.

“The Vatican has taken advantage of the chaos surrounding the trial to fire Msgr. Scicluna,” the editorial argued.

La Vanguardia also reported that some Vatican insiders were disconcerted by the “demotion,” saying that it appeared the Vatican had “shot itself in the foot.”

However, the Spanish newspaper also noted that Msgr. Cremona’s reported health problems may have moved the Pope to “send in one of his best men.”

And according to sources close to both Msgr. Scicluna and the Vatican, the rumors circling Msgr. Scicluna’s new appointment have missed the mark.

“There’s no doubt that certain people, including some prominent ones, were unhappy with some of his decisions,” one source said. “That’s the nature of the work he was doing. But Msgr. Scicluna worked so closely with the Pope, and has known him for so long, that I find it hard to believe that the appointment is a way of sidelining him.”

Another Church insider agreed. “I don’t see any sort of reason why the decision should be seen that way,” the insider said. “Rather, Msgr. Scicluna’s appointment is a blessing for Malta.”

Paul Cremona, the archbishop of Malta

Paul Cremona, the archbishop of Malta

Msgr. Scicluna, the source indicated, was simply the right man in the right place at the right time.

“He’ll leave a very big pair of shoes to fill, but no doubt one of his colleagues will manage it,” he said.

Succession concerns also played on the other source’s mind.

“It’s a bit worrying that there doesn’t appear to be a clear replacement lined up, and many bishops who’ve worked with him have said that he’ll be sorely missed,” this source said. “But their loss is Malta’s gain. Msgr. Scicluna is extremely capable, highly intelligent and cut out for leadership roles.”

The second source agreed. “He’s a unifying figure with a lot of charisma. He’s a gift of providence to the Maltese Church.”


Bertrand Borg writes for the Times of Malta, where this report originally appeared.

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