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Gozitan archpriest steps down to take government job

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Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti

A senior Gozitan cleric, who for the past 18 years served as the archpriest for the village of Xaghra, has resigned from his position and taken up a job with the government.

Gozo Curia sources told The Shift that Monsignor Carmelo Refalo, once touted by the Labour-leaning newspaper (it-Torċa) as the best-suited candidate to become Gozo Bishop, has suddenly decided to leave his parish post.

While the priest is close to retirement age, no reason was initially given for his resignation, but The Shift was then informed he was placed on the State payroll as a full-time ‘social welfare professional’ at the Gozo Directorate of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS), which has offices in Xewkija.

The FSWS, a government agency, facilitates social welfare services for the vulnerable.

The small Gozitan office of the FSWS is managed by another monsignor, Joe Vella Gauci, through a political appointment in 2018. Vella Gauci was appointed Malta’s ambassador to UNESCO.

Mons Vella Gauci

The Shift tried to reach both Refalo and Vella Gauci at their workplace in Xewkija. However, over five working days, no one answered the phone at the FSWS Gozo branch during working hours.

Government sources described the FSWS Xewkija office, where the two monsignors are based, as “very small” and rarely operating full-time.

“Most of the time, its officials are holding meetings out of office”, they said.

Monsignor Refalo was the archpriest of Xagħra between 2005 and last September. His resignation took his parishioners by surprise.

Like Vella Gauci, Refalo is politically well-connected as his brother was the driver of Minister Anton Refalo for a number of years.

The situation in Gozo, where hundreds have been put on the government’s payroll through schemes, agencies, and private contractors providing services to the Gozo ministry has earned a rebuke from Gozo Bishop Anton Theuma.

                           

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