A Church commission did not find any criminal offenses in relation to the local, highly controversial religious sect Kommunità Ġesu’ Salvatur (KĠS), despite finding various instances of psychological and spiritual abuse during its investigation of the community, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Malta told The Malta Independent. As such, no reports have been filed with the police.
Earlier this month, the Archdiocese released a statement in which it disassociated itself from KĠS, which has allegedly caused “psychological and spiritual abuse” to its members. This followed the work carried out by a Church commission which heard the experiences of all those who offered to meet up with it, including the leaders of the Community.
“During a five-month investigation it was observed that, the Community gives a wrong and confused interpretation of Church teachings, an erroneous interpretation of scriptural texts, and an attitude that hurts those who are passing through challenging situations in life,” it said labelling the Community’s teachings as narrow and fundamentalist.
In its statement, the Church had noted that KĠS demonstrates the sociological characteristics of a closed cult community which preys on the vulnerable, causing untold harm to many of its members, most of whom are unfortunately unaware of it.
“The leaders and, at times the intercessors, allegedly say the right thing at the opportune moment in order to camouflage their abuse,” the Church said.
Reports of such instances have made headlines when former members of the community voiced their experiences with local media platforms (such as, Lovin Malta and TVM) delineating the psychological pressures they felt while being part of the Community.
The Malta Independent contacted the Archdiocese to see if it has ever filed a police report about the psychological distress this Community is causing.
“The Church Commission which investigated KĠS did not encounter any cases of potential criminal offenses. The issues encountered concerned only doctrinal matters, spiritual practices, and interpersonal relations. These are matters of concern for Church authorities,” the spokesperson said.
The same question was asked to the police who confirmed that it never received reports regarding any psychological abuse from anyone, neither from the Archdiocese of Malta. It also noted that the Church Commission did not identify any potential criminal offences.
This newsroom also asked the Archdiocese if it would consider asking or forcing KĠS to stop its meeting in order to avoid further damage to its members as well as the Catholic Church’s teachings.
The spokesperson explained that KĠS was never recognized officially as a Catholic Association of the Laity by the Archdiocese of Malta.
However, since the Community claimed to be Catholic and was using Catholic Churches in the Maltese Ecclesiastical Province for its meetings, “it was the Archdiocese’s duty to investigate the reports it received, and the concerns expressed by the faithful and to make public and implement the conclusions reached by the investigation.”
By means of a decree issued by the Maltese Episcopal Conference, the Bishops of Malta and Gozo have determined that priests and religious are not allowed to participate in meetings organised by the Community; that such meetings cannot be held in churches of chapels or in any other property belonging to the Archdiocese of Malta, the Diocese of Gozo, religious orders and ecclesial lay associations; and that laypersons should not attend activities organised by the Community.
When asked, the spokesperson said that the Archdiocese of Malta is not aware of other closed cult communities which are affiliated with the Catholic Church.
“The Archdiocese considers any allegations very seriously as part of its ministry to provide pastoral care and the necessary support to the faithful.”
Those who would like to receive this support are invited to call on the helpline 25906510 (during office hours) or send an email on [email protected].
‘Bishops failed to show us where our mistakes are’ – KĠS
Since then, KĠS have issued its own statement on its Facebook page, saying that it has always worked in and with the Church, with priests and religious at the service of the people of God for the last 14 years.
It noted that, following the Archdiocese’s decree, the Community was expecting a directive from the Bishops to show where its mistakes are and correct them, but this never happened.
In light of this, the Community said it will stop its public meetings until it can return to its “mother’s home” at the Community “can have no home other than that of her mother, the Church.” However, it plans to maintain its presence online.