The article Dom meeting his match at last? (Father Joe Borg, The Sunday Times) was not offensive, but deserves a few remarks, especially the passage where the author, imagining a debate between Saint Peter and Dom Mintoff at the gates of Heaven, says “Maybe Peter […] would have retorted by mentioning other incidents of greater relevance and import. The politico-religious conflict of the 1960s, the process of legislated secularisation of the 1970s and the drive against Church schools and property. Even though most obits, even in the foreign press, have failed to mention it, Peter would also have mentioned the violence that darkened most of the 1980s.”
Well, Father Joe seems not to be able to put himself into Peter’s shoes. You see, to begin with, Mintoff had no politico-religious conflict in the 60s … Professor Friggieri has rightly pointed out that it was a politico-ecclesiastic dispute … Mintoff had no quarrel with the teachings of Christ. Mintoff had a quarrel with a Church which was objecting to losing privilege, to paying taxes, to being answerable to the law, among other things.
Only a petty Maltese like me and all the rest of us would keep saying the same thing over and over again. Please wake up: Saint Peter has the wider picture. He saw the Labourites weeping over their dead who were not to be buried in holy ground … I suppose this is what is being referred to when the article says that “Fortunately the Church reacted with prudence and great maturity during this troubled time thus not pushing the country over the precipice of a looming civil war”. Yes, prudence may be the word, a very revealing word. Because Guze Ellul Mercer should have been quartered and hung in chains, I suppose. Even dead. And then the article mentions “the legislated secularisation of the 1970s” … this I don’t get. Is the article referring to the decriminalisation of adultery and homosexuality?
Ah! I see … the article must be referring to the long discreet discussions with Vatican about the status that the Roman Catholic Church would enjoy in the Republican Constitution! You know proof of the pudding and so on … Even further on, the article mentions a “drive against Church schools and property”. What drive? To begin with, was that Mintoff’s time or KMB’s … was it a drive against Church schools or was it a drive to make education free? What exactly did the Labour administration seize from the Church?
The cherry on the cake goes to the contradiction within the article itself, where at one point we read of this drive against Church property, and later on we read that the “most effective secularising steps were taken by Nationalist governments in the past 20 years […conveniently left as …] the subject for another commentary.” Whoa! Dear President Emeritus Dr Fenech Adami … is this a warning to you? Does this mean that St Peter is going to take you to task for effectively swiping off practically all the Church’s lands, without as much as a whimper from the ecclesiastical authorities, so that you could (rightly, bravo!) fund the wages of the teachers in Church Schools? I suppose that for Saint Peter, what’s good for the sardine must be good for the tuna or something like that.
The remark about violence in the ‘80s is again too human and lacks the insight of the saintly perspective of Saint Peter. Father Joe, the media expert, finds the way to mention something which, he says, others politely left out. But here again, I think Saint Peter would have the wider picture of the violence we went through. You see, Saint Peter WOULD KNOW who killed Karen Grech, in the ‘70s, who killed Raymond Caruana, in the ‘80s, who orchestrated Pietru Pawl Busuttil’s naïve frame-up, who planted the bombs every Christmas, who blew up the Sliema Police Station, turning Malta into “Beirut” (remember who said that? Did that help us with foreign investment?), just as much as he knows the names of the Labourite thugs who raided the PN clubs and the Curia (unfortunately and regrettably).
But then again he would know the names of the angels of mercy who destroyed the MLP clubs “because they got carried away during their celebrations”, as someone said, more or less. (So much for “tacit consent”). We must be aware that just as Saint Peter witnessed the Transfiguration of Christ, St Peter witnessed the “Miracle of the Falling Balustrades”, which “just fell” on the Labourites below, and “The Shooting at the Delegation of the Socialist International at Zurrieq”. He would know who sent the continuous death threats that Joe Camilleri, Mintoff’s ex-secretary, has referred to recently.
Saint Peter knows who did all that, and I don’t think it’s a list of Only Reds. We, petty people of this world don’t know but Saint Peter would know. Saint Peter would know “The Story of the Hoarding of Weapons at Pieta”, and he would know why these weapons were hidden behind a built-up wall, and who ordered this and why. He would know why weapons were hoarded in a private warehouse instead of being declared and delivered to the police. Saint Peter has a vivid picture of who was shooting firearms at Tal-Barrani, and it wasn’t just “The Socialist Thugs and their Police Accomplices” shooting at the other side. Saint Peter would know why the Gakketta Blu Unit was set up, and what (as it is said) a busload of them was doing parked in MARSA during the night of the counting of votes at Ta’ Qali, just as he saw the organisation of the Brownshirts and the SS in Fascist Germany, and the Blackshirts in Italy. Yes, he definitely has quite a lot to discuss with Dom Mintoff.
He might discuss ingratitude. He might ask Dom Mintoff why he employed priests to teach in schools in a drive against ignorance and illiteracy. He might ask Dom Mintoff why he gave half a lira per week per child to orphanages. Yes, if I were Saint Peter, Dom Mintoff wouldn’t be past the gates of Heaven yet … and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was arguing about Malta’s weather for next winter … others would say he’s probably arguing about the chair he has been allocated by the first Holy Father himself, to enjoy the fruits of having recognised Christ in the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the outcasts and the sick. Who knows? Saint Peter sure does.