The Malta Independent 23 September 2017, Saturday

Finally, a fearless archbishop

Stephen Calleja Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 12:18 Last update: about 2 years ago

The Labour Party is dying to pick a fight with the Church.

To be more accurate, it is dying to provoke Archbishop Charles Scicluna into retaliating to the heavy accusations Labour exponents are resorting to each time the monsignor says something.

One would think that, 50 years down the line and generations later, Labour would have come to terms with what happened during the 1960s, and left the dispute it had with the Church to the annals of history. But the wounds are still festering, at least in the minds of those who do not want to forget.

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The Church’s influence during the years when it was led by Archbishop Michael Gonzi was much greater than it is today. One would therefore be inclined to think that Labour should not give so much weight to the current archbishop. But it is evident that Labour is still very much afraid of what the Church thinks and, most of all, what it says.

Labour prefers a Church that does not speak up, and for several years it did not. For more than three decades – in between Mgr Gonzi and Mgr Scicluna – the Church stood silent, even when efforts to hit it where it hurts took a violent turn. It barely reacted when the Labour government tried to shut down its own schools, and it had to be the force of lay people, parents and students protesting in the streets which stopped Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici from achieving his aim. Neither did it do much when thugs described as the aristocracy of the workers entered its own home, the Curia in Floriana, and smashed all they found in their way.

Now Labour is on the lookout for a fresh conflict with the Church, and no opportunity is lost to denigrate, even attempt to ridicule, Mgr Scicluna when he intervenes on matters that do not strictly pertain to the religious, but which nonetheless have an impact on our way of life. It did not happen with Mgr Joseph Mercieca and Mgr Pawl Cremona, simply because they never made themselves heard except on religious issues. It is happening now because Mgr Scicluna, as is his right, feels it is his duty to take part in public debate.

We now have an archbishop who is not afraid to call a spade a spade, and sees it as his mission to not only lead the Church sitting behind a desk, but to also intervene when the subject in hand is a matter of national concern.

But, for Labour, this should not be happening. Labour wants a submissive Church that deals only with religious celebrations and feasts, not one that participates in the everyday life.

And so we have the Glenns, Jeffreys and Alfreds, no doubt supported by those who pull their strings, who are always at the ready to pounce on whatever Mgr Scicluna says or tweets. Only recently Labour got their media house to do a highly-insulting piece about Mgr Scicluna, even calling him Challie. Coming from the same people who were offended because Joseph Muscat was called Joe is rich, isn’t it?

They are doing all this because they believe that Mgr Scicluna should not speak about high-rise buildings, or corruption scandals, or the morning after pill, or euthanasia, or the hatred that emanates from some bloggers. They want him to shut up in the face of all that is happening around him. 

Then, when he speaks, they bombard him with insults and try to provoke him into replying to their offensive comments.

But Mgr Scicluna is far wiser than the Glenns, Jeffreys and Alfreds, and One media all put together. He speaks when he wants to speak and when he has something to say, not when he wants to say something.

Maybe this is what irks them most.

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