Priest who cares for home­less youths dis­missed from Fran­cis­can or­der for ‘in­sub­or­di­na­tion’

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Neil Camil­leri

A well-known priest who was dis­missed from a Fran­cis­can or­der says this was the re­sult of dis­like har­boured against him by the Pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter.

Fr Adrian Cachia, 71, was told by the church author­i­ties that he was be­ing dis­missed by the Or­der of Fri­ars Mi­nor and that he is not al­lowed to cel­e­brate mass in the arch­dio­cese of Malta. The friar is still cur­rently tied to the OFM and has ap­pealed the de­ci­sion.

Con­tacted by The Malta In­de­pen­dent yes­ter­day, Fr Cachia said the Pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter, Fr Richard Stan­ley Grech, “had it in for him” ever since he was ap­pointed to the post two years ago. “He just doesn’t like my way of do­ing things. I have al­ways acted out of ini­tia­tive in­stead of wait­ing for some­one to tell me what to do.”

The priest said he has been help­ing trou­bled youths for over three decades. Rather than stay­ing in some con­vent, he has spent many years pro­vid­ing shel­ter, food and com­pany for home­less youths at a Ra­bat home he con­verted for the task with his own hands. He says he has lately been help­ing youths who are discharged from Mount Carmel Hospi­tal but have nowhere to stay. “This is how I have al­ways worked. I have al­ways been close to peo­ple and lived with them. I take care of these youths, cook and clean for them and help them find a job or go back to school.”

But his ‘un­con­ven­tional’ ways have not gone down well with Fr Grech, he says. “I was told not to go to the house any­more and to stay in­side the con­vent.” But Fr Cachia de­fied the or­der and still vis­ited the Ra­bat house un­til he was “rat­ted out.”

There was also an is­sue about money the priest and his sib­lings in­her­ited from their par­ents. “We in­her­ited a sub­stan­tial amount and some prop­er­ties. I gave away ev­ery­thing I had,” he says. “I gave money to char­ity and to many clubs I am in­volved with.”

“Fran­cis­can priests take a vow of poverty so we can­not in­herit money. I did not keep the money I in­her­ited. I gave it away. But the pro­vin­cial ex­pected that the money would go to the Prov­ince.”

Fr Cachia said that his for­mer su­pe­ri­ors had never ques­tioned his meth­ods. “They sup­ported me, un­like Fr Grech. The Pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter went to the Arch­bishop, who de­cided to sup­port him with­out giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to say my piece – with­out any sense of jus­tice. I have never hid­den any­thing or kept any­thing for my­self. I have al­ways sought to help oth­ers. I feel sorry not for my­self but for the peo­ple of God.”

Fr Cachia is un­re­pen­tant for what he did, in­sist­ing that he has a duty to­wards the youths in Ra­bat. He says, how­ever, that this is not the end of the world. “If they don’t want me it’s their de­ci­sion. I am 71 but I still have a lot of work to do.”

He has, how­ever, ap­pealed the de­ci­sion and has writ­ten to the Vatican in the hopes of get­ting it over­turned.

When con­tacted by this paper, Pro­vin­cial Min­is­ter Fr Richard Stan­ley Grech said he pre­ferred not to com­ment. Fr Grech thanked us for con­tact­ing him for his ver­sion but said: “I be­lieve you un­der­stand that these are very del­i­cate is­sues that re­quire a high level of pru­dence. Those who are in­tel­li­gent enough need no ex­pla­na­tion. Those who are not in­tel­li­gent will find no ex­pla­na­tion to be enough. In the best in­ter­ests of Fr Cachia, of the ob­jec­tive truth and of the com­mon spir­i­tual good, all I can say is that these are in­ter­nal af­fairs and I will stop there.”

Fr Grech ex­plained that Fr Cachia re­mains in­car­di­nated to the Fran­cis­can or­der un­til he finds a Bishop who is will­ing to in­car­di­nate him into his dio­cese. For the time be­ing he is now al­lowed to cel­e­brate mass with the or­der or in the arch­dio­cese.

If they don’t want me it’s their de­ci­sion. I am 71 but I still have a lot of work to do.

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