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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
Archbishop Paul Cremona
Speculation over Cremona's health started after his absence from public events was compounded by rumours that his predecessor Joseph Mercieca, and Gozo bishop Mario Grech had taken the lead in carving a harsh pastoral letter hitting out at attempts to legislate new regulations to offer in-vitro fertilisation on the national health system.

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.

Reuben Mifsud
In our thoughts and prayers dear PATRI Pawl. Your smile reminds me of Pope John Paul I - the smiling humble Pope. He wanted to open wide the doors and windows of the Church to let in some fresh air and light to overcome the dark and murky environment of a Curia-focussed church. Alas, he was not allowed to do so. The Holy Spirit chooses the right persons to lead us. Pope John Paul I and PATRI Pawl are proof that the Holy Spirit is still working in the Catholic Church. I pray that PATRI Pawl will be allowed to change the Church and reorient it towards being of service and support to the people of God. Be strong PATRI Pawl. We love you. We need you. I urge all Catholics to pray, pray, pray for our beloved Archbishop and offer sacrifices with this intention in mind.
Joe Borg
We are reminded that the church is run like the roman empire - and be it the bishop or the pope - they are anointed by god and will remain in power until they die - even if too old and fragile to carry out their duties - one is also reminded of the previous pope. Do not be surprised then that the church has always been against liberty, freedom, democracy and in favour of fascism, dictators and authoritarian regimes who are willing to share power with it.
m borg
Beware of Gozitans in sheep's clothing who could be a descendant of Torquemada.
John Farrugia
The Teachings of the Church of Rome are clear on IVF. Rebellious clergy in Malta can make the situation worse. Maybe the way the bishops of Malta communicated the teachings of the Magisterium may not be the best way however those who really follow Christ know that IVF is bad and is similiar to abortion. There is no way around it.