- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2006

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Archdiocese of Miami has asked priests at eight Florida churches to speak with parishioners about whether a retired Catholic priest accused of molesting former Rep. Mark Foley may have molested anyone else.

The archdiocese on Friday also barred the Rev. Anthony Mercieca from all church work while it investigates the accusations.

“Such behavior is morally reprehensible, canonically criminal and inexcusable,” the archdiocese said.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Mary Ross Agosta said pastors at each of the churches where Father Mercieca worked between 1965 and 2002 will talk to parishioners to uncover any other accusations against him.

Father Mercieca, 69, now lives in Malta in the Mediterranean, where church officials opened an investigation after he admitted fondling Mr. Foley and being naked in saunas with him when Mr. Foley was a boy in the 1960s.

Mr. Foley, a Florida Republican, resigned from Congress last month after the release of sexually explicit computer messages he sent to teenage male pages.

Father Mercieca, who lives on the Maltese island of Gozo, has denied having sexual intercourse with Mr. Foley.

A spokesman for the Gozo diocese said Father Mercieca does not serve in any parish on the island, but he regularly celebrates Mass and hears confessions.

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