Catholic priest who said being ‘gay is worse than being possessed’ cleared of hate speech

Father Muscat speaking on chat show Xaraban

A priest from Malta has been cleared of hate speech in court after implying in a Facebook post that being gay is worse than being possessed by the devil.

Father David Muscat, 51, was charged with hate speech in January after posting about the murder of 29-year-old Polish student Paulina Dembska.

In a Facebook post, Muscat discussed Dembska’s alleged killer, saying that him being gay or bisexual would be comparable to “schizophrenia and malice”, and being LGBTQ+ is “even worse than being possessed”.

His comments came after the alleged suspect Abner Aquilina reportedly told detectives he had been “taken over by the devil” when he carried out the murder.

In another comment, father Muscat said Aquilina, who was wearing bright clothes in a photo, looked like he was just coming back from “gay Pride”.

Shortly after the posts were made, archbishop Charles Scicluna issued a private warning to Muscat and apologised on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for his “harsh words”.

Clergy required to ‘show respect, compassion’

In a statement on the Archdiocese of Malta’s website, Muscat was ordered to “cease making inflammatory and hurtful comments in public forums or face prohibition from exercising his ministry in public”.

“The archbishop also reminded father David Muscat that in accordance with Catholic teaching members of the clergy are required to show respect, compassion and sensitivity to people from all walks of life,” the statement read.

Archbishop Scicluna added: “I want to apologise on behalf of the church to all those who were hurt by these harsh words, and their mothers and fathers who also feel betrayed by the church they love.”

Muscat’s Facebook posts have been deleted. In a separate post in July, however, he doubled-down on his views, writing: “When in January I wrote a comment in defence of this young man, who had once been both an altar boy, and a passionate member of a parish band club, I was virtually crucified.

“Because it is apparently more culpable to claim that sexual abuse by homosexuals is worse than any fantastical claims of occult activity… but pointing this out is anathema in our current moral vacuum.”

According to the Malta Independent, Muscat was cleared of hate speech charges on Thursday (29 September), with the court, presided by Magistrate Ian Farrugia, not finding any malicious intent in the Facebook posts.