Transcript: Rev. Mercieca Discusses Foley

The following is a transcript of CBS News Anchor Katie Couric's Oct. 19, 2006, interview with the Rev. Anthony Mercieca, 72, who resides on the Maltese island of Gozo.

Katie Couric: Father, I understand that you have told a Florida newspaper that you did have an intimate two-year relationship with former Congressman Mark Foley when he was a teenage altar boy? Can you describe that relationship for us?

Rev. Anthony Mercieca: Yeah, we used to go out together to the games, when I, when my time permitted, you know? And we used to go to the ballgames and to the wrestling matches together and we used to go eat out.

KC: And this was in Lakeworth, Fla.?

AM: Yes. Yes.

KC: But when the relationship is described as intimate, what exactly does that mean to you, Father?

AM: Well, intimate, it's like when you are with your brother or so, you know. Like you don't have any, any ... it's like when you are with a member with your family, you know? You don't ... you're really joyous and that's it, you know?

KC: In this article, you described a number of encounters that you believe might, Mark Foley might have misconstrued as sexually inappropriate. Can you describe some of those for us?

AM: No we used to go to the sauna bath, you know, there was a Finnish community there in Lakeworth and we used to go there to take a bath, you know. And maybe at the park, you know, you would jump in the lake, you know. And there was no one.

KC: So you're saying you went skinny-dipping together, you took saunas together. According to this newspaper account, it also says that you massaged him when he was naked, and you were naked in the same room on overnight trips?

AM: Yes, that's what, that's what I want to correct, because [Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter] Matthew Doig, I told him, we used to do, like the athletes you know, he'll stay with his towel on and go on the bench and I will massage his neck and his back, you know. Like they do to athletes, you know?

KC: Father, you don't think that was inappropriate behavior for a priest and a teenage altar boy? People hearing this, even if it was innocent, would think it at the very least creepy and at the very most highly inappropriate?

AM: Massage parlors exist, you know. I don't know, so ...

KC: According to this article, you claim that once when you were in a drug-induced stupor, there was an incident that happened that you could not or cannot clearly remember that might have gone too far. Can you tell us what you mean by that and what you do remember from that encounter?

AM: I had taken some pills, had taken some alcohol and sort of ... that was drugs, not that we used drugs. You know?

KC: And what happened?

AM: That's what I can't remember, you know. And I guess that's what maybe Mark is thinking that was something bad.

KC: And what do you believe might have happened?

AM: I can't say, you know. If you are out ...

KC: Are you still claiming that these encounters were all perfectly innocent?

AM: Well I mean at the time we didn't think they were malicious, you know?

KC: I'm not talking about malicious, were they inappropriate in your view?

AM: It was maybe more spontaneous ...

KC: Were you involved in these kinds of encounters with anyone else in the parish?

AM: No. Never.

KC: Can you understand why this would be very upsetting to Mark Foley?

AM: I can't. Because for 40 years it didn't bother him, now how come it bothers him?

KC: Well sometimes there's such a thing as repressed memories and shame and guilt. Do you feel contrite or sorry for this?

AM: I mean, now that I knew that he doesn't like it, I wouldn't do it, you know? I thought it was spontaneous, you know?

KC: You're 72 years old, what are you doing now?

AM: I help in church.

KC: In charities?

AM: In the church. In the cathedral here.

KC: And what actions do you think will be taken by the Catholic Church in light of these revelations?

AM: I don't know — these are 40 years old. So really, it's ... there is a limit too.

KC: And you don't feel badly about what happened?

AM: I told you if I knew that he was so bothered, you know, I would not have done it.

KC: But Father, he was a teenage altar boy.

AM: Well now. That's the story.

KC: All right, well, thank you very much for talking to me.

AM: Ciao.