Catholic Church admits evidence behind abuse claims in Malta

Valletta, Malta - The Catholic Church in Malta said Friday that there was sufficient evidence behind allegations made by eight men that they were sexually abused as minors by priests to have the case sent to the Vatican for investigation.

In a letter addressed to the men, the Maltese church said the cases against the alleged perpetrators of the abuse would be forwarded to the Vatican for adjudication.

Three priests are currently facing court proceedings in Malta in connection with the abuse.

The eight alleged victims each met privately with Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Malta in April.

The men claim they were abused while residing at an orphanage in the 1980s and 90s.

The allegations, which first came to light in 2003, were investigated by a Church-appointed "Response Team," in Malta. The alleged victims have repeatedly accused it of dragging its feet.

The eight men said they would hold a news conference on Saturday.