Gozitan Monsignor Carmelo Refalo confirmed The Shift’s report that he was stepping down from his position and had accepted a government job, but he declined to divulge any details about his recruitment process in order not “to prejudice his case”.
The Shift revealed how the 62-year-old senior cleric resigned from his post of archpriest of Xagħra in September. He then took a job as a senior official of a government agency, with its offices in Xewkija, just a short distance away from his residence.
In a Facebook post following The Shift’s report, the monsignor said he had been asking to move on from his Xagħra religious duties since 2019 to “focus his religious mission on other areas”.
He also confirmed that he is now working at the Gozo office of the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS), managed by another monsignor, Joe Vella Gauci.
Yet he said The Shift’s story was “unfounded”, saying he “passed from the whole normal process” to get his government job and that he “is determined to continue helping and accompanying families and individuals wherever needed”.
His Facebook post is no longer publicly available even though it was shown on the Labour Party’s ONE TV to claim that Refalo refuted The Shift’s report in yet another attempt by Labour’s media to discredit The Shift.
Various attempts to reach Refalo at his new workplace in Xewkija during regular office hours were unsuccessful.
After finally reaching him on mobile, The Shift asked him to confirm that he was recruited by the government, given a full-time post as a “social welfare professional”, and to state whether he was employed through a direct order or after a public vacancy.
The Shift also asked Refalo to disclose his new grade and salary, whether he is close to pensionable age, and if he had asked his bishop for permission before leaving his religious duties to become a state employee.
Refalo said he had “nothing more to add to my statement (Facebook post), which I issued. Moreover, I have no intention of prejudicing my case as I am considering taking further action”.
It is unclear what action the senior Gozitan cleric is considering or on what grounds.
He then directed all questions to his email address, but no reply was received by the time of publication.
Refalo has worked as a priest all his adult life, serving as an archpriest in Qala and Xagħra for many years before becoming a government employee at 62.
His parishioners have praised his work in the community, but some expressed surprise he would take on a government job so close to retirement age.
The monsignor’s brother served as the driver for Minister Anton Refalo for years.
Recently, Refalo’s religious master, Bishop Anton Theuma, rebuked the nepotism system adopted by the government in recent years, particularly in Gozo, where scores of employees were put on the public payroll without being expected to dedicate their full time to their jobs.