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