Transsexual prisoner writes to Pope Francis – alleges she was reviled by Friar at Corradino Correctional Facility

A transsexual prisoner at Corradino Correctional Facility has written to Pope Francis, after allegedly being verbally abused by the Prison Chaplain when he insulted her with the Maltese derogatory words bewwiela and imnittna. Contacted this morning by, Fr Franco Fenech categorically denied to having insulted her with these words, and added that he was going to investigate how the letter in question left the prison.

In the letter to His Holiness Pope Francis, dated 7 January, of which has a copy, the prisoner Raquela Richards Spiteri alleged that the Church authorities in Malta have chosen not to heed her genuine request as a transsexual person at Corradino Correctional Facility.

The prisoner wrote that a Provincial of the Franciscan Capuchins, Dr Martin Micallef, chose to postpone this problem to the coming June, when the Order’s General Chapter is held in Malta. She further alleged, however, that the Provincial is abdicating his responsibility, as she will have left the Prison by June.


letter_raquela_CCF copyThe prisoner added that the words used by Fr Franco have very ugly connotations in the Maltese language. She further alleged that when faced with these accusations before the Acting Director of Prisons, Fr Franco admitted to having used those words, but showed no remorse. The prisoner reiterated that this case reminded her of her younger days, and alleged that she had been sexually abused by another priest.

Richards added that she was not excluding taking legal steps against Fr Franco, insisting however that as a Catholic person, this problem should be sorted out by the Church.

“I have no remorse”

Contacted by, Fr Franco Fenech reiterated his denial of the allegations contained in the letter to Pope Francis, and said he had never used these derogatory words.

“I deny categorically using these words, but I cannot comment at this stage”, Fr Franco said. He added that if the letter in question does not carry the Prison’s official stamp, it means it was taken out of Prison illegally, and he would not comment further at this stage. Fr Franco added, however, that he has absolutely no remorse as he never uttered these words, whilst admitting that to date he has not been contacted by his superiors.