The Malta Independent 8 May 2021, Saturday

Mgr Charles Scicluna installed as new archbishop; 'will protect flock from the wolves'

Therese Bonnici Saturday, 21 March 2015, 08:12 Last update: about 7 years ago

Mgr Charles Scicluna this morning was installed as the new archbishop of the archdiocese of Malta in a ceremony that took place at the Mdina Cathedral.

The ceremony was a formal occasion in which he officially took over the running of the archdiocese after his appointment was announced a month ago.

In comments he made to the media present as he left his parents home in Lija (see video below), Mgr Scicluna said he was both nervous and excited.

It is the first day of spring, but it has turned out to be a rainy day which however did not dampen the occasion. An old saying, referring to a wedding day, says that if a marriage takes place in the rain it means that it will be a fruitful and lucky one. It is hoped that the rain will also serve as a blessing for Mgr Scicluna's term as archbishop too. Mgr Scicluna himself referred to this saying when he spoke to journalists. After all, his installation is a kind of "marriage" to the Church, as he took over its leadership in Malta.

Thankfully, the archbishop's prayers for the rain to go away were heard as the skies cleared later on during the day, although it remained cold and windy. This however did not stop people from gathering at the various points of Mgr Scicluna's itinerary.

At 8.30am, Mgr Scicluna arrived at the Lija parish church where he was greeted by a sizeable crowd inside the church dedicated to Our Saviour. He was greeted by Lija local councillors and parishioners, many of whom kissed his hand as he made his way inside the church, stopping to pray in front of the main altar.

A discussion that took place on TVM, which included the participation of Labour Party deputy leader Toni Abela, and Nationalist MP Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, who were both with Mgr Scicluna in the law course at University in the 1970s, both spoke of the new Archbishop as a man who even in his younger days was earmarked to rise in the Church. Dr Abela said that he was always a man of principle and who did not shy away from arguments, even those that did not concern the Church. He said that one time, to tease him about his origins at Lija - where the feast of Christ the Saviour is celebrated - he told him that Malta had its own saviour, Dom Mintoff. At this point, Mgr Scicluna had stood up to tell him that if Dom Mintoff was Malta's saviour, Jesus Christ was the Saviour of the World.

He also recalled that when Mgr Scicluna was graduating, his colleagues chanted "Gonzi, Gonzi", referring to then Archbishop Mgr Michael Gonzi, a prescient chant considering that many years later Charles Scicluna rose to the highest position that he can occupy in the Church in Malta.

At 8.50am, he arrived at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Good Health in Rabat, where he stopped to meet people there. The rain gave some respite and Mgr Scicluna could stand on an open jeep as he was driven away.

He arrived at the Dominican church in Rabat at 9am. A visibly emotional Mgr Scicluna tapped on the roof of the jeep as it approached the convent, and applauded the people who greeted him warmly. Inside the church, he was greeted by his predecessor, Mgr Paul Cremona, who resigned the post of archbishop last October, paving the way for Mgr Scicluna's installation.

On his way inside the church, one of the priests who kissed Mgr Scicluna's hand was Fr Charles Fenech OP, who is accused of sexually abusing a woman. In the confusion at the entrance of the church, it is probable that Mgr Scicluna did not realise who the priest kissing his hand was.

He later left the church to make his way to St Paul's church, also in Rabat, where he recited prayers. On his way there, standing on the jeep, he was greeted by people on the side of the road, and Mgr Scicluna made it a point to shake their hands and wave to them, often seen saying "Il-paci maghkom" (Peace be with you).

His next stop was at the church known as Ta' Giezu, also in Rabat where, again, he was greeted by a sizeable crowd. The Franciscan Friars presented Mgr Scicluna with a miniature sculpture of a bishop, an occasion that brought smiles all around.

One significant moment during the course of the day was when four doves, symbols of peace, were released by the new Archbishop.

The itinerary also included a stop at St Mark's church in Rabat, the last stop before going to the Mdina Cathedral. The last part of his journey to the Cathedral was on foot, and he took his time to stop for a few seconds with the people who lined up the streets to greet him.

A sweet moment took place when a woman presented Mgr Scicluna with a glass of water on a silver tray, which the new Archbishop graciously took before gulping down the water and thanking the woman.

True to his strong ecumenical credentials, His Grace Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna then greeted, in front of St Agatha’s Chapel, Mdina, the leaders of other Christian Churches and Christian Traditions in Malta.

To bear witness to the relations which the Catholic Church in Malta has with other religions present on the Islands, the new Archbishop then proceeded to greet the head of the Muslim Community in Malta, the Imam Mohammed Elsadi, at St Paul’s Cathedral.

People filled up the square in front of the Cathedral, with many of them approaching Mgr Scicluna to kiss his hand, while the guests who were invited to be present inside the Cathedral for the mass have started to arrive.

Some 100 priests took part in the concelebrated Mass, including Cardinal prospero Grech, Archbishop Aldo Cavalli, Apostolic Nuncio; Archbishop Emeritus Paul Cremona, the Bishop of Gozo Mgr Mario Grech, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary of Relations with States, and Mgr Filippo Iannone, bishop of Rome.

The Mass was attended by, among others, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil. President Emeritus Eddie Fenech Adami and President Emeritus Ugo Mifsud Bonnici were also present.

At the start of the Mass, the message sent by Pope Francis announcing the appointment of Mgr Charles Scicluna as Archbishop of Malta was read out, and this was welcomed by an applause from the congregation.

Mgr Cremona read out a prayer for Mgr Scicluna, praying that God helps the new Archbishop to fulfil his duties as head of the Church in the best interests of the people. The Apostolic Nuncio then symbolically installed Mgr Scicluna as the new Archbishop, a ceremony which was also received with an applause.

(The archbishop's parents Emmanuel and Carmela)

Mgr Scicluna then was approached by representatives of society, including nuns, disabled persons and a family which represented all families in Malta. This family was that of Inspector Jeffrey Azzopardi, whose family home in Zurrieq was recently the target of a bomb placed by unknown perpetrators, luckily injuring no-one.

The first reading of the Mass was read by Miss Sylvia Riolo, the Archbishop's secretary, while the second reading was read by Mr Natalino Camilleri, Superior General of the MUSEUM Society.

In his homily, which was an address to God, Mgr Scicluna said that Jesus' words “Do you love me” reminded him of his weakness and Jesus’ mercy.

“You know my sins and my faults, but you know I love you. You know that I am nothing without you,” Mgr Scicluna said.

He asked God to help him take care of the flock he is responsible for.

“It is my duty to take care of the flock I have been made responsible for, and I will lead by example with love, and I will protect my flock against the wolves,” he said.

He thanked God for not leaving him alone for this episcopacy, mentioning in particular Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, whom he described as his elder brother, and Archbishop Emeritus Paul Cremona, “who has promised to help me,” Mgr Scicluna said.

The homily was followed by the offertory, with the Archbishop's niece and nephew Bernardette and Alexander, brother and sisters Jesmond, Josette Grixti and Monica Lanzon, and parents Emmanuel and Carmela took part.

At the end of the Mass, Mgr Scicluna thanked all those who participated in the event, including the many people who were involved in its organisation. He also thanked Mgr Gallagher for his patience with what Mgr Scicluna called the "Maltese mafia" which met in a room close to that of Mgr Gallagher, a comment that had the congregation share a laugh.

In his first comments to the media soon after leaving the Cathedral, Mgr Scicluna thanked the Maltese people for the privilege of being their spritual leader. "I am ready to give up my life for them," an emotional Mgr Scicluna said.

Photographers: Melvin Degiorgio, Anthony Sultana. Videographer: Matthew Agius; Report by Therese Bonnici.


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