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Curia dispels claims that Archbishop’s health threatening his control
The Archbishop’s Curia has replied to speculation concerning Archbishop Paul Cremona’s health, in a letter to MaltaToday insisting that Cremona was still “running” the Maltese Church.
20 August 2012, 12:00am
Responding to claims made by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo in his weekly column in MaltaToday on Sunday, the Curia's spokesperson said it was "absolutely not true" that former Archbishop Joseph Mercieca was involved in the pastoral letter 'Celebrating Life'.
The Curia also said there was no involvement by Mercieca "in any form of strategy with respect to IVF, as alleged in the article".
The Curia however did confirm that Cremona had cancelled his public commitments, which he is now resuming gradually - most recently by blessing a monument to mariners at the Valletta waterfront on the 70th anniversary of the Santa Marija convoy - after having been advised to rest.
MaltaToday has been informed that Cremona received doctor's orders to take time out of his schedule after a strenuous and trying year of public activity.
"To report that Archbishop Cremona is out of action is to say the least an exaggeration and also does not correspond to the truth," the Curia's spokesperson said.
"Mgr Cremona was advised to rest. He cancelled his public commitments which he is resuming gradually. However, this does not mean that in actual fact he is not fully responsible for the running of the Archdiocese. This also disproves the other allegation that Bishop Mario Grech has taken over the running of the Archdiocese of Malta."
Malta's bishops sounded their opposition to the legal regulation of in vitro fertilisation, in a pastoral letter issued 24 hours before government announced its plans to ban embryo freezing and introduce egg freezing for infertile couples.
Controversially, they also told parents of IVF children in their pastoral letter that their offspring are "still children of God, even if the methods through which they were conceived go against Church teachings and against human dignity".
And then they urged the same parents to seek forgiveness from God: "trust in God's mercy and to seek the road to self-reconciliation".
The bishops later denied there was an internal rift between the dioceses of Malta and Gozo on the Church's position on in vitro fertilisation, after a number of priests refused to read the pastoral letter on Sunday because they opposed its "spirit" and "wording".
The bishops insisted the pastoral letter "expresses their mutual position on the matter" and that they first sought the "informal advice" of the Vatican. Members of the clergy describe Gozo bishop Mario Grech as pushing a hardline stance against IVF as opposed to the Archbishop's softer approach proposed by his theologians. The picture emerging from a MaltaToday survey carried out in the first week of August among 300 Gozitan residents is a more secular one than previous surveys. Despite strong opposition to IVF by the Curia, which was relayed to the faithful in the pastoral letter, 73% of Gozitans support the inclusion of IVF in public healthcare.
The Church's former public relations officer, Fr Joe Borg, has argued that the Church had learnt the wrong lessons from the divorce referendum campaign, due to the militancy that was taking prevalence.