The Church in Malta is hijacked. Not by the Holy Spirit. But by “hidden hands” that play the music, promote others to the fore so that they will take the brunt of the fall-out. The “omerta’” that has long been noticed in the Maltese church has reached unbearable proportions. The latest attempt, after the disastrous divorce campaign, is the IVF question. It affects the lives of many children who were dubbed as children of a lesser god and their parents ought to eat humble pie to ask pardon to the Lord of Compassion for daring to bring a son or daughter into the world using the brains God gave them to give life to the 750 babies born through IVF.
Hamlet mentions in the ever famous quote "there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark". Many in the local Church believe that because of their position they can dictate the country’s agenda taken into consideration the health of the leader.
The Church in Malta is in deep crises. One can only understand the iceberg if one is aware of what goes beneath. The hands that manipulate the church’s public stand are still working to achieve their hidden objectives. Their arms reach far and wide. All those who are perceived to be against them – they will be marginalised or privately asked to shut up. Or both!
There are two main schools of thought in the Catholic Church in Malta: The pastoral-minded school and the pro-tridentine group.
The second School of Thought is inspired by the Council of Trent (December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563).
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Church and the modern world.
The Council of Trent considered being one of the Church's major reform council and the most impressive embodiment of the ideals of the Counter-Reformation, issued condemnations on what it defined as Protestant heresies.
It took over 300 years until the next Ecumenical Council.
Although the maxim “Ecclesia simper rifomanda ("the church is always to be reformed") is one of the basic tenets of the Protestant Reformation, particularly in the ideas of German theologian Martin Luther it was taken up by ecclesiastical reformers of the Catholic Church during Vatican II. The church must continually re-examine itself in order to maintain its purity of doctrine and practice.
Yet change is taboo for those who claim their vocation is to serve but their practice is to maintain their position and career in the church.
The Church in Malta is not in the reform mood. It has never been. The decades and decades of the same people, same bishops, same officials have produced a fossilized curia that is very difficult to reform. Some say it’s mission impossible.
The hard-core fundamentalist Catholics are having the upper hand. They are better organized, easily manipulated in the name of “authority” and “obedience”.
A glance to their website http://pro-tridentina-malta.blogspot.com/ would prove beyond reasonable doubt what is their agenda regarding the civil government and the attempts to revise Vatican II. They support the excommunicated Bishop Lefebvre who ordained bishops in defiance of the Pope himself!
Name and shame? Hardly the spirit of the Gospel.
Several priests I spoke to would complain and complain – but believe that the only way to defend the church is to be quiet, silent, passive.
Otherwise one has to pay too high a price for being outspoken. “Nahslu l-hwejjeg mahmugin id-dar u mhux inpercuhom quddiem il-barranin” (Let’s wash dirty linen at home, not outside”).
Fear is rampant. “I do my bit and don’t care if the (church) authorities are alienating the grass roots. I am no hero. I don’t want to pay the price of opposing the dominant class in the local church”.
Apathy is pervasive. Each on his own. And before you speak – look behind your shoulder. Do not trust everyone around you…
These attitudes, ill-omened in the Church in Malta, among priests and committed lay people, are rendering the Church impotent and infertile.
I do believe that the authorities of the Church in Malta have learned NOTHING from the divorce debate.
On the contrary, the Bishop of Gozo, as big as B‘Kara parish in Malta, is being presented as the successful and ideal Bishop to be in Malta. Their argument runs as follows:
“You see, Gozo have voted against divorce because of the uncompromising stand by the Bishop. He is a militant. We want a militant church. A powerful church. We have to teach the truth, uncompromisingly. Those who agree with our truth can remain; all the others can go to hell by their own choosing. The church IN MALTA lost the battle against divorce, if we adopt the uncompromising stand as the Bishop of Gozo we will win in the battle against the devil who is proposing evil laws about same-sex unions, IVF and eventually abortion.”
The Bishop of Gozo is the fruit of the labour of Mgr Mercieca,ex-Bishop of Malta. Many in the church believe that he wanted a bigger say in the choice of the Archbishop of Malta too – but only succeeded with having “mano in pasta” in the choice of the Bishop of Gozo.
Fr Noel Grima, now editor of Malta Independent was editor of the Curia paper “Il-Hajja”. He goes on record to recall, with Charles Buttigieg, ex Curia PRO, what goes behind our back in the choice of our bishops. Intrigue. Shady alliances. Grima narrates how the Malta bishop insisted to publish in the Church’s newspaper the name of Bishop Cauchi as a candidate for Bishop of Malta – knowing very well that names mentioned in the media would be discarded, a perception to discourage lobbying. Grima and Buttigieg went to the Gozo Curia to report their bitter experience only to find Bishop Cauchi smiling and telling them before they spoke what they were supposed to tell him! News moves fast in the curia circles.
The turmoil within the Catholic Church in Malta won’t be contained anymore. Those who insist that dirty linen should be washed inside the Curia find out that there is no washing machine there. They too lose hope. Others have a faith that believes all and God will continue to sustain the Church.
Two or three reports published several years ago prove the frustrations of many priests in Malta – and more so in Gozo. These reports are kept under wraps and it’s difficult to obtain a copy from the Curia.
The tandem Bishop of Gozo – Bishop Emeritus of Malta are co-ordinating a common strategy. They compromise the whole episcopacy publicly to put their feet down before anyone else would dare to speak out. About a year ago Mgr Mercieca, not a friend of the local media while Bishop of Malta, published an article against IVF to state his stand in IL-MUMENT and IT-TORCA purposely on the same Sunday for better impact. Obviously no one even imagines that a Bishop Emeritus would be denied the right of freedom of expression. But his public stand is considered by many inside the curia to be a flagrant attempt to cajole the Bishops to take a similar stand.
The boycott of the tandem Bishop Emeritus-Bishop of Gozo organized during the Priests’ annual aggiornamento week was another clear sign to exclude any speaker who would open to the modern world – and to make it crystal clear who is to call the shots. Their absence, and message, was noted by one and all.
Many priests and committed laity would have liked to do as the reported priests have done to refuse to read a very black-and-white pastoral letter regarding IVF. It was only read in Gozo and only because of pressure was it read in Malta also – but only a week after. The first time ever that such a discrepancy happened to a joint pastoral letter by both bishops.
When the Government was proposing to rape St John’s Cathedral by passing a law to sanction the development of a crater in front of the Church – it was the Curia authorities who came to the rescue of a Government vote which was widely believed to be lost.
Now again will the Curia authorities come to the rescue of a troubled government on the eve of an election?
Regarding the Pastoral Letter on IVF it lacks the essential of Christianity – compassion, sensitivity. These gems are particularly irritating:
“First of all, the Church steadfastly encourages couples not to concede to the temptation of taking “easy” solutions simply because these seem technically possible”…
Ask the couples who cannot have children how “easy” it is to use IVF!
“The Church holds close to her heart all those children who are born as a result of IVF methods and confirms that they are still children of God, even if the methods through which they were conceived go against Church teachings and against human dignity. The Church urges the parents of these children to trust in God’s mercy and to seek the road to self-reconciliation, in line with their call and mission as parents”.
So these 750 babies have to ask their parents: why did you sin so I was born?