The Malta Independent 27 September 2023, Wednesday
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Pro-divorce Priest due back to Malta today

Malta Independent Saturday, 30 April 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 10 years ago

The Curia, the media as well as the anti- and pro-divorce groups are all waiting to see whether the Maltese priest who has declared himself to be in favour of divorce will actually arrive in Malta, from Canada, today. Perhaps, more than anything, everyone wants to find out it if was a hoax or not.

There were doubts about the veracity of Fr Joe Grima’s claim, made on Facebook, however after speaking to him and going through the ecclesiastical directory published by the Curia, it at least seems that the person he is claiming to be does exist.

His name is listed as Fr Joe Grima; a Maltese priest incardinated abroad. The man claiming to be Fr Grima said he worked with the Maltese Canadian Community close to the St Francis of Assisi church in Mississauga for the past four years, and said he will be working at the Immaculate Conception Parish of Ħamrun, when spoken to by this newspaper on Thursday.

Before going to print, his Facebook profile was still open. This newspaper tried to contact him throughout the day yesterday, however he was unreachable all day and it is understood that he was in transit travelling to Malta.

The Curia is also still trying to trace the ‘priest’. The spokesman also said that to carry out pastoral duties in Malta, a person needs a permit issued by the same Curia, and such a request has not been made.

This newspaper contacted various priests, to check about his identity, but no one seems to know him.

Ħamrun’s Immaculate Conception Church Chaplain, Salvu Borg was the only person who knew about the priest, only because his office’s phone did not stop ringing all morning yesterday.

“We received an inundation of calls asking us whether Fr Grima is real or not. Fr Joseph Grima, is definitely not part of the Maltese diocese,” Fr Borg said.

Fr Grima, declared himself in favour of divorce using Facebook and that he wishes to see more priests pluck up the courage and follow in his steps to say how they really feel about the introduction of divorce in Malta.

After creating a Facebook account just a few days ago, the priest made his declaration first on the group Iva għal-Liġi tad-Divorzju f’Malta (Yes for the introduction of divorce in Malta) and then on the group he created last Wednesday, Kattoliku? Iva, Divorzju? Naqbel (Catholic? Yes, Divorce? I agree).

When spoken to over the phone, last Thursday Fr Grima sounded very convincing. Fr Grima explained that he happened to be in Malta when the campaign for the introduction of divorce started to gain momentum and was not surprised that many colleagues of his agreed with the introduction of divorce. He alleged that he is 39 years old and that he has been working in Canada with the Maltese Franciscan community there for the past four years after he was ordained 16 years ago. He added that he returned to Canada for a few weeks to conclude some pending administrative work and that he will be coming to Malta tonight and that he hoped to continue his pastoral work with the people, ‘where he belongs’, if the Curia would let him.

“The fact that I was away from Malta for a while gave me the opportunity to think about the issue objectively. I felt strongly about the fact that divorce is a civil and not a religious matter, so I thought of creating a platform (referring to the Facebook group) where people could discuss this aspect freely. And so I did, this is not about a personal crusade, many priests are scared to talk the way I am talking,” Fr Grima said.

“Everyone is scared, and as you can all see, the home (referring to the Curia) is starting to show its teeth,” he said, urging priests like him to join his cause on Facebook. When confronted about this on the phone, he said that he doesn’t believe that the Curia is as mean as it is perceived to be. “I don’t think the Curia can force me do things I don’t want to do. I am not worried about the potential suffering that my opinion can bring about,” he added.

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