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Pope Francis flies to Lampedusa to remind us that immigrants have, not are, a problem

 - Thursday, 04 July 2013, 08:52

by Daphne Caruana Galizia

I am not an admirer of popes for their own sake or their holiness, but for the part they play in bringing their influence to bear on communicating what is, essentially, a secular message in the secular world.

Separation of church and state, give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s, is the way it should be. But this does not mean that a figure so influential should not seek to bring his weight to bear in the secular world where human beings are treated atrociously, and to shame us by example into thinking and acting differently. In this, the pope’s role would be similar to that of a charismatic politician or rock star turned campaigner, who manages to focus world attention on an ongoing catastrophe that we might otherwise ignore. Except, of course, that the pope’s message carries more credibility as a leader of men and the best-known living Christian.

I admired Pope John Paul II for the part he played in helping focus our minds on the horrors of an Iron Curtain and European communism, in which people were kept prisoners of the state, and that we took completely for granted as a fact of life because we had grown up with it that way. I admired him for using his influence and his position to help bring all that down, initially with his backing for the Solidarnosc movement in his native Poland, which is where it all began. You could say that the pope had no business meddling in politics – but that wasn’t politics, but human rights abuse on a massive and entrenched scale. And if Christian leaders do not concern themselves with matters like that, precisely what is their purpose?

I think I am going to like Pope Francis for much the same reasons. His first big official trip is not a state visit of pomp and circumstance, to celebrate mass for a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people of his faith. He is flying to Lampedusa on Monday, to see the migrants. He will go in his role as a religious leader, but not in his role as a leader of the faithful. He will go, quite simply, to set an example to the rest of us, including those who do not share his faith but especially to those who do, who tend to be the most vocal and hateful towards those who risk their lives crossing the Mediterranean because they are desperate.

As southern Europe discusses the ‘European problem of illegal immigration’, he will by this gesture remind us that the immigrants themselves are, in fact, the ones who have really serious problems, and that they are human beings, individuals, who should not be spoken of in terms of a natural disaster, biblical plague or in any other such dehumanising language.

His office says that while he is in Lampedusa, Pope Francis will cast a wreath into the sea in memory of the many thousands of people who have died in that relatively short stretch of savage water, some of them after having succeeded in making the horrendous journey through the Sahara. And yes, he will say mass, but it will be at the migrants’ reception centre.

Where does this leave us? It should leave us deep in thought. Last week our prime minister, his family and a government delegation paid a much-publicised visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican. Before and since, the prime minister has talked about the need for ‘burden-sharing’, about Malta’s problems with immigrants, about how all of this is unfair on Malta. Nowhere has there been a note of compassion for so many people suffering and dying in horrific conditions. Even those who make it, who come out alive at the other end and find themselves with refugee status, have a lifetime of hardship ahead of them. Their memories are painful, their family relationships and friendships have been truncated, cauterised or destroyed completely. They will never see home again.

Yes, Pope Francis’s visit to Lampedusa will be the answer, the example, so many people need. No doubt, some will turn against him for this, or criticise him for doing it. But popes, we sometimes forget, are not there to be loved. They are they to remind us what we should be doing, where we are going wrong in our behaviour towards large groups of people. If in the course of that they end up loved or even just admired, so much the better – though I seriously doubt that they care. This one certainly seems to have his priorities in order.

46 comments

Post Comment
Antoine Vella says:
05 July 2013 09:39

I have to say this.

The reaction of the PN to the Muscat's dangerous arrogance needs to be a lot more vigorous and forceful than a short statement referring to "populism".

This issue goes to the very heart of the PN's principles: it has to do with human rights. The fact that the people being treated abusively are foreign and black does not change the matter one little bit.

Racial integration should be a priority for the PN and the party should take the initiative to oppose the growing sentiment of racism among the Maltese, including PN supporters.

Meanwhile the Maltese Church could also take the cue from the Pope. How about the Archbishop visiting the detention centres and speaking out like the Pope does?

Post Reply

John Azzopardi says:
05 July 2013 11:47

Come on Antoine.   You know that the vast majority of the maltese are behind muscat on this issue. Are you serious. You probably don't even pay one euro tax. Serioulsy.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
05 July 2013 12:34

There's that stupid use of the word 'racism' again. If a black person speaks out about white issues he is exercising his human rights. If a white person speaks out about a black issue he's being a racist. I haven't agreed with very much JM has did since coming to office but I certainly support his stand regarding immigrants. Perhaps people like you will not be happy until your country has been completely taken over by Africans which is what will happen if a stand is not taken now.

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Antoine Vella says:
05 July 2013 09:07

James Boewulf Tyrell, your comments are very much in line with what I would expect from someone who condones anti-Catholic discrimination in occupied Northern Ireland.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
05 July 2013 12:44

You have no idea what I condone anywhere. However since you raised the matter of anti-Catholic discrimination in occupied Northern Ireland, love the use of the word occupied by the way as it certainly shows what you are or more likely what you would like to be if you had the balls, lets raise a few points. At the moment there are Catholic PIRA terrorists in the Government of N. Ireland. Also the present excuse for a police force in N. Ireland had to lower its standards for recruitment in order to achieve what was seen as a religious balance. It is now common knowledge that the PSNI are so useless they have had to recruit ex members of the former RUC to try and make the present bunch look half efficient. Now if anti-Catholic discrimination actually existed neither of those things would have happened. By the way if you want to try and get a job in N. Ireland as a Protestant. I know people who have actually lied and said they were Catholic just in order to get a job. Anti-Catholic discrimination, yeah right, as usual you have no idea what you are talking about.

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John Azzopardi says:
05 July 2013 01:08

What the Pope should also be doing is meeting with European leaders in Northern Europe and ask them to take these illegal migrants landing in the southern european nations who have many problems. That is where the Pople should come in. It's his obligation to do that.

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CARMEL SERRACINO-INGLOTT says:
04 July 2013 18:08

We should be Samaritans to anybody. I pay taxes and I am content that some of it (taxes) go towards the well being of our refugees directed to our shores. Remember God will say You never gave me water when I was thisty, cloth me when I had no clothes, shelther me when I had no house , fed me when I was hungry.  No excuses that we are overpopulated God takes care of the birds and told us to reflect on this. We the Maltese are being tested by God Himself. So Daphne is 100% right in her comment above and brave to defend the defendless. These people have NOTHING except ill fortune, pain which includes hunger.  We might very well find ourselves in their position by a small catastroph such an earthwake of 8.

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John Azzopardi says:
05 July 2013 01:06

Mr. Serracino Inglott. No we are not being tested by God himself. You are naive indeed if you think this is the case.  First is our nation. I am all for saving these poor souls lives, but once that is done, they must be returned to their place of origin or their leaving point of orgin. Malta simply cannot afford to keep on taking people in as we are simply full up. I suggest you sponsor some of them in your home and see how long you will last.

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John Azzopardi says:
04 July 2013 16:13

Yes it is a problem, and the pope is doing a great thing to address it and show solidarity with the illegal migrants. But those in Lampedusa will eventually be sent to other larger parts of italy and they can eventually cross over to other EU nations. Those in Malta will be stuck here for a long long time and will not be allowed to leave. On top of that what you should be writing about is burden sharing by our large EU friends. Malta is simple too small to have another illegal migrant stay here.

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Louise Vella says:
04 July 2013 13:50

How many of them will the pope take to the Vatican? Talk is cheap. So is the odd mass and the odd wreath. But the Maltese taxpayer will have to carry the burden of the 300 illegal immigrants that landed in Malta today and all the hundreds that will come attracted by the welcoming noises of His Holiness.

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Robert Lowell says:
04 July 2013 20:59

While we all aware of your feelings the church but keep in mind that in helping these humans like yourself we are showing our sense of civilization beyond any religious connotations ! I am sure we are more willing to help these poor humans rather continue supporting our many social bamers !!! If only it was u Louise on those boats would be the first to cry for help !!!

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FRAN ABELA says:
04 July 2013 13:24

Brian and Philip - please just ignore this 'gentleman'  who seems to take infinite pleasure in always insulting the Maltese and Maltese politicians -especially PN ones.      He seems to have a huge chip on his shoulder so let us just let him rant on to his heart's desire.  He provokes so we should not fall for it.  Simply ignore him.   No doubt he will reply to me with the usual insulting words that he is so famous for and which I will in turn ignore.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 10:22

Why should anyone have compassion for illegal immigrants? If things are not right in the country you live in then you fight to have things changed you don't pay a bunch of criminals for a place on an overcrowded boat in the hope of reaching somewhere else. And why do these people never have identification documents when they arrive in Malta? The answer is simple, because most of them are criminals and don't want their past catching up with them. How many of these poor people have you taken into your home Daphne or for that matter how many do you think the pope will take back with him to live in the Vatican? It's okay shouting about how these poor people need our compassion and our help just so long as we don't have to provide any of it ourselves.

Post Reply

Brian Ellul says:
04 July 2013 10:49

Guy... you suck! Just shut up. I found some interesting articles on DCG blog and I suggest that whoever wants to know what kind of a..hole you are just read those pages.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 11:13

Ah, you are one of Daffy's little retards. That figures.

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Philip Darmanin says:
04 July 2013 12:23

These guys are doing exactly what you did…coming to our shores for a better way of life. Only an accident of birth may have given you more right than them to be here.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 14:22

I must remember that Philip, if I ever decide to come to your shores for a 'better way of life.'

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Brian Ellul says:
04 July 2013 14:05

You know my answer.... clown.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 14:32

Now now Brian, if you are going to hang out with Daffy you really must learn to expand your vocabulary. As Daffy said in a comment yesterday, "it is a great shame more people were not eloquent. Then readers of this otherwise august newspaper would be spared the seemingly endless onslaught of semi-literate and sub-literate comments posted by those who seem to lack the linguistic skills to read the newspaper itself." So there, you be careful or she will jump on you from a great height.  

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FRAN ABELA says:
04 July 2013 17:53

Brian - please do not give this sad miserable person the opportunity to spew his dislike of people who do not agree with his arguments.   He seems to be still locked in the colonial days - you know - the yes massa, yes massa type.   Just ignore him please and do not give him the pleasure to continue with his insults.   What a poor unhappy man he must be if he cannot make his arguments without having to resort to insults.  Now I expect to be insulted too !

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 19:51

That's rich coming from a Daphne supporter, the queen of insults of people who do not agree with her arguments.

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Robert Lowell says:
04 July 2013 21:03

James we are helping them because they are humans like yourself .as regards the poor taking them back to Vatican , kindly note the social work which the church through its members do  worldwide !  Then being not Maltese is rich of u to give u lessons when remember u r just a guest here !

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 21:45

Fair enough Robert but answer me one thing, how many will be enough in your opinion? At what point do you say we can't take any more, 10,000, 50,000, 100,000? When in your opinion do these humans start to become a problem? I'm not trying to be funny Robert, I would really like to know.

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Kenneth Cassar says:
05 July 2013 08:13

How about giving us a number yourself, James Alexander Tyrrell.  How many would be acceptable for the likes of you?  I'm not trying to be funny, and I've asked this question to other right-wingers.  So far, no one has replied.

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Antoine Vella says:
05 July 2013 09:20

Kenneth, Tyrell will not give you an answer but I can, on his behalf and on behalf of all "superior beings": 0.

What we are witnessing here is the start of a racist movement and people like Tyrell, brought up in a country where ethnic and religious discrimination were the order of the day, takes such prejudice for granted and, in fact, desperately encourages it.

It's not his fault, miskin. He had a bad upbringing.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
05 July 2013 12:59

We agree on numbers anyway. And again you use the stupid racist word. Obviously you are one of those little people who believes that you should be seen and not heard. Obviously you care so little about your own country that you would rather keep your little mouth shut than object to what is clearly wrong. I wonder how you will feel when your churches start being turned into Mosques? As for the country I was brought up in you are making assumptions again like your friend Daphne. You have no idea what country I was brought up in.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
05 July 2013 12:52

I'll gladly give you an answer Kenneth. My number would be zero. The most important thing on Malta are the Maltese people, well most of them anyway, and the island is too small to continue taking on board illegal immigrants mostly criminals from African countries. Save their lives by all means, give them food and water and then dump them back where they came from. It is not up to the Maltese people to take on the burden of looking after these people. So now that I have answered you Kenneth kindly do the same for the question I asked Robert which of course he couldn't answer. How many is too many Kenneth?

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Kenneth Cassar says:
05 July 2013 13:38

I see, James Alexander Tyrrell.  Your number would be zero.  So could you please spare us your irrelevant "arguments" that Malta cannot afford to take in so many immigrants, and just admit you don't want Africans or Muslims in (oh the irony) other people's countries?

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Kenneth Cassar says:
05 July 2013 13:48

As for your question, it is all too easy to put a zero, if one is callous enough to disregard the fact that it is human lives we are speaking of.  I, on the other hand, cannot give you any number since that would have to be discussed in the proper international fora for a solution that would never include letting people drown or sending them back to risk their lives in their country of origin.  Of course, you wouldn't care about this.  But perhaps you will allow me to stoop to your level and tell you that as a foreigner, you should mind your own business.  I'd rather have refugees and asylum seekers than fascists in my country.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
06 July 2013 22:29

Kenneth take the blinkers off and start seeing these people for what they are, a Muslim invasion force. Not that they need much force when they are welcomed with open arms by do-gooders. I can't wait to see how you feel when they start telling you what you can and can't do in your own towns because that is what they are trying to do in Britain. And what do you think will happen when they start to preach hatred for other countries and religions from Malta? What will the reaction be when they start sending trained killers out of Malta on missions. You really have no idea what these people have planned for you do you?

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Kenneth Cassar says:
07 July 2013 10:15

I see.  I forgot they're all terrorists.  They must be, since Tyrrell says so.  God, you're more paranoid than George W. Bush.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
07 July 2013 13:02

Terrorism comes in different forms Kenneth. Some carry guns and some come with open hands asking for charity. The end result is the same as they eventually take over and you no longer have a say. The whole idea Kenneth of studying what has happened and is presently happening in other countries is to learn from it so that the same thing doesn't happen to you.

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Kenneth Cassar says:
07 July 2013 17:21

Just as I thought.  You're more than a little paranoid.  I won't waste any more of our time.  Have a nice day (before those Africans take over).

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
07 July 2013 20:24

Kenneth people are being killed on the streets of Britain by your 'Africans!' If you love them so much why don't you do something to help them? By that I mean don't fob them off on anyone else but actually do something to help a nice wee Muslim family. Maybe take some into your own home, would you do that? I tend to get paranoid as you call it when people state in my own country that in their eyes as a non Muslim I'm unclean and need to be killed. Tell you what Kenneth I really hope you live to see the problem these bastards can cause. I can always find somewhere else to holiday so it doesn't matter to me.

Post Reply

Kenneth Cassar says:
08 July 2013 06:33

People are being killed in the streets of Malta by Maltese criminals.  I hope you don't judge all Maltese people as murdering bastards, just like I hope you don't think all Irish people are IRA murderer bastards.

This is definitely my last reply here.  I've wasted too much time already on someone who is clearly prejudiced and judges people by the colour of their skin or their country of origin.  Good bye.

Post Reply

James Alexander Tyrrell says:
08 July 2013 09:54

Or to put it another way you'll sneak off rather than deal with the question I put to you. Much easier to twist someones words and avoid answering the question isn't it?

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Saviour Micallef says:
05 July 2013 10:44

I presume that you have been living in Malta for these last years! hence by hindsight you should know haw many "humans" had to return back home  whilst others found new pastures, say in America, and European countries. I trust that you do have a memory

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
05 July 2013 14:45

No Saviour I haven't so you shouldn't make the mistake others have made and presume. As for the numbers who have left for other pastures Saviour of course I know about them. Why do you think they keep coming to Malta Saviour? They come because those who came before and got given all sorts of benefits and finally got free flights to another country and walked into free housing and jobs etc. rang their family members and told them get to Malta now! And by the way who was supporting them during their stay in Malta?

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Joseph Borg says:
04 July 2013 18:26

That is exactly what the Irish were doing, but then the British government planted staunch protestant Scots and when this did not succeed they had sent the British army.

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Geoffrey Borb says:
04 July 2013 19:51

Your comments on this thread are by and large as contemptible as most of your writings, dating all the way back to when you were trying to tell us what a bad thing the EU was and that we shouldn't join, don't you think we should have some context to your location and allegiances? Since you're busy posting all over the place? Context and provenance are very useful when evaluating others' opinions. For instance, a search on google for "james tyrrell gozo jobs" gives us this particular gem:

James A. Tyrrell - Looking for work on Gozo

Hi there. I've been to Gozo several times now and I'm returning in October this year. I live and work at present in N. Ireland. I'm in my early fifties and have worked in various sectors including sales and the police. At present I'm employed in a local factory which is a subsidiary of the American company Caterpillar. My ambition is to live and work in Gozo as I love the little island. I would consider any type of work and would not consider anything too much of a challenge. I've been a member of British Mensa so I can pick most things up fairly quickly.

As it would for most other experienced readers of CV's and resumes, that last sentence brings a smile to my lips. If you're still looking for work, I suggest you drop it.


Post Reply

James Alexander Tyrrell says:
04 July 2013 21:31

That's where I got that name from! You're making the same mistake Daphne did when she had me married, and living in Valletta I think it was with my wife Christine and of course I had a Maltese passport.

Post Reply

Geoffrey Borb says:
04 July 2013 23:54

Oh so you mean its a false name? or you're ANOTHER James Tyrrell? You're not the ex-RUC man who infests all the websites, alternately claiming to write from Gozo or County Antrim? Where Caterpillar actually DOES have a subsidiary? (with two plants)  But you're British not Irish? Funny how you (and Beowulf) exactly match the individual in tone, subject matter and attitude. Alternately claiming to have an interest here, or no interest at all? Multiple personalities perhaps? You're a sad spiteful bitter whiner and you seem to delight in causing distress to those who read your comments or those who engage you in debate, but really you mostly attract contempt. Shameful, spiteful twisted and contemptible is what you are, as are your ideas. 

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Kenneth Cassar says:
05 July 2013 13:50

That's where you got the name from?  Do you mean identity theft?

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
05 July 2013 22:24

Obviously not an expert in law then!

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Kenneth Cassar says:
06 July 2013 09:05

Obviously not an expert in hyperbole then.

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James Alexander Tyrrell says:
06 July 2013 11:27

You've lost me. In what way is your statement related to exaggeration???

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