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By Mathew Lemisio

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, July 30) - A Roman Catholic priest
has been suspended after he was alleged to have had sexual intercourse with a
Year 13 schoolgirl at one of the Catholic colleges.

The girl is now said to be pregnant and no longer attending

The Catholic Church's leader in Samoa, Archbishop Alapati
Mataeliga, is away from Apia and could not be reached for a comment before press

However, a high ranking priest who asked not to be named
confirmed the priest was suspended from his duties as a priest.

" The Catholic Church have rules and actions to deal with
this type of issues," the priest said. "And in the case of that
priest, we have given him his marching orders."

The senior priest though refused to go into details of the case.

" It happens everywhere," he said. "It's nothing
new and it doesn't happen only to the Catholic priests. It happens in other
churches as well."

Asked why he's refusing to go into details of the case, the
senior priest said: "How did you know about this story?"

When told it has been provided by Samoa Observer sources, he
replied: "Well you ask your sources to give you the information you need
for your article. Don't come to us.

He said though that he did not oppose having such misconduct

"It's a real shame," he said. "I think having it
published will serve as a message to other priests who think of going through
this same road."

He was also asked if the church had contacted the Police.

"That's none of our business," the senior priest
explained. "That is totally up to the girl's family."

Police Commissioner Papaliitele Loronese Neru said yesterday he
had not heard of such case being reported.

Meanwhile, the girl's principal was not prepared to make any
comments on the issue.

"All I have to say is that I have asked the girl's family
that she can still come in to sit her PSSC (Pacific Secondary Schools
Certificate),"the principal said. "But I can't confirm nor deny those

The principal added that she felt sorry for her student, as she
was one of the brightest ones in the college and a role model too.

The priest is believed to be related to the girl.

August 1, 2003

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