The Malta Independent 12 November 2019, Tuesday

The Catholic Church: no plan, no reaction, no hope

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 16 October 2019, 10:21 Last update: about 26 days ago

In Malta, the symbols, the niches, the chapels and the massive church structures are there for all to see.  However, if I get my research well, the word “Church” derives from the Greek ‘ekklesia’ meaning “an assembly”.  So more than anything else the ‘Church’ is, or rather should be, an experience that is embedded in the community therefore sharingthe experiences by a body of believers. 

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We know as a fact that so many are disconnecting from Mass attendance andeven fewer are involved in the Parish - statistics andguileless observations will surface this immediately.   To add to that, the Church that was so strong in the social sectorhas chosen to ‘sell’ its ethos and all that defined it over the centuries, to the State.  It is calling it Private-Public-Partnership but really and truly it is an exercise in uncoupling from its ‘core business’.  In the process the Church is giving up its main resources, namely its agenda, its message and itsmilepost.  The Catholic Church in Malta seems to be more interested in hanging on to its empty and soulless buildings cum convents, chapels and churchesrather than dedicate itself to evangelization and outreach.

The Church has taken this downward spiral and there doesn’t seem to be anyback-peddling.  What appeared to be a fresh way of doing ‘Church’, when Scicluna was appointed Archbishop in 2015, has fizzled into nothing and he now seems to be sounding the surrender horns andis more engrossed with his Vatican City rolethan anything else.The Archbishop ismore focused on conferring Parishes into Basilicas which means nothing to almost anyone and alienating the people who think that a title defines them, their parish and their town – absolutely meaningless.  

The Church biggies seem to forget that the flock deserve a different type ofgovernance. 

The reaction of the Catholic Church in the national agenda is deflated andin short supply.  Take away the occasional statement by the Environmental Commission and the positioning of a couple of organizations like Caritas and JRS and we are left with absolutely nothing.  The Archbishop on the other hand seems to find solace that his voice is being heard when preaching on a lectern during the national day celebrations. 

Probably the appointment of Mgr Galea Curmi, as Auxiliary Bishop, was tentatively a response to thisbotch, but with hardly any tangible impact so far. 

Mind you to a certain point I’m hardly bothered. 

Much as I believe that the Church’s social agenda remains important, secularization was good news for this nation.  The unfortunate thing is that with so little effort to make things work from those at the top, the Church narrative in these last years has been taken over by; thechastened Augustinian priest who was found guilty of stealing from his own convent; a Clergy man and hiscontemptuousness, arrogance, outright debauchery and ‘isms’ that found solace in Xarabank where his ego seemed to bloom; thelewd sermon bya Provost, which sounded anything but an attack on the LGBTQi community; a well-renowned Dominican friar who was found guilty of being intimate in a public place and managed to slip away from other cases of abuse of power by the skin of his teethonly because of lack of evidence; a Parish priest with hisbawdy photo with the PN/PL flags in the foreground to the parish Church statute; a priest’snarcissistic entry to his new role as a parish priest riding on the snazzy Porsche coupe and needless to say the priests found guilty of abusing children in a residential home, to name just a few.

I am sure that the apologists would go about feeling queasy because the ‘Church’ does a lot of good, and mind you I confirm that.  Of course it does.  But life is not a balancing act, where the good outshines the bad.  The Church is guilty and sinful of misusing power, is out of touch and unable to connect with the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, lacks intellectual stimulation, most of its preachers deliversermons of poor quality, provides ill-prepared priests and nuns, uses the laity to fill in the gaps, cold-shoulders women in the organization and isdoctrinallyunsound.

The local Catholic Church is being kept afloat firstly by the organizations that are creating a Church within a Church, like the Neo-Catechumenate and the Charismatic renewal and secondly by a select group of priests who have evolved into a fad whereby people go specifically to listen to ‘them’. 

This is what keeps the Church going.Other than that, I see no hope, no plan and hardly a reaction.   

 

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