The Malta Independent 22 May 2019, Wednesday

TMID Editorial: Church matters - The Archbishop and the Vatican

Wednesday, 5 December 2018, 11:01 Last update: about 7 months ago

That Archbishop Charles Scicluna is a well-respected individual in the corridors of the Vatican is something that has been known for quite a while.

He worked in Rome as the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor for a number of years before taking on the role of head of the church in Malta in 2015, but his connections with the Holy See remained strong.

Earlier this year, he was sent to Chile on a mission to tackle a massive sex scandal which eventually led to the resignation of many bishops in this South American country.


More recently, Pope Francis named Archbishop Scicluna as a deputy, or adjunct secretary, at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that processes sex abuse cases globally. An Associated Press report said Mgr Scicluna's new appointment is “symbolically significant and will also give him greater say in the day-to-day running of the congregation”. The pope “clearly trusts him after he asked Scicluna to conduct an in-depth investigation in Chile earlier this year that revealed Francis' gross misunderstanding of an abuse and cover-up scandal there.”

It did not stop there. Last month, Pope Francis named the Maltese archbishop to an organizing committee for a February abuse prevention summit that has grown even more high stakes after the Holy See blocked US bishops from taking action to address a growing sex scandal in the United States.

All of this prompted an authoritative voice on Vatican affairs, the editor of Crux Now John Allen, to name Mgr Scicluna as one of the possible candidates for the papacy, in spite of the fact that he is still not even eligible to vote to elect a pope, given that he is not yet a cardinal. Allen’s proposition may seem an exaggeration at this stage, but there is otherwise a very strong probability that, at least, Mgr Scicluna will be named a cardinal in the not too distant future.

When the Maltese Curia, in early November, announced Mgr Scicluna’s appointment to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, it emphasised that he will retain his post in Malta but will be travelling to Rome on a regular basis, leaving Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea Curmi to run the archdiocese in his absence.

It is evident that matters are heading that way – there will come a time when Mgr Scicluna will be in Rome on a more permanent basis while Mgr Galea Curmi takes his place as archbishop in Malta. But, before that happens, we must all hope that in this “transitional” period of time, if we can call it such, the Church will continue to play a major role in Maltese society.

Under Mgr Scicluna, the Church took on a more participatory function. This was not welcome in all quarters, as not everybody is happy when the archbishop – and a influential one like Mgr Scicluna – speaks up to share his views on any given subject, in particular anything that could be perceived as an involvement in the country’s politics.

But, aside from these outspoken detractors, Mgr Scicluna’s words of wisdom have always been taken as a valid contribution to what goes on in this country. His measured approach has added value to public debate, and it would be a pity if his commitments in Rome deprive us of his input.


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