Archbishop’s corruption salvo

Unfortunately for the Archbishop, there are also stories of maladministration and corruption even in the Maltese Curia’s own administrative structures; let alone in the Vatican! 

Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna

The Sette Giugno is probably the only national feast in which the Archbishop is not asked to take a formal role in its yearly remembrance. It is actually Mr Speaker’s Day – and so it should be since the 1919 riots eventually led to the Maltese being given the right to elect their own Parliament for the first time under British rule. 

This year Archbishop Charles Scicluna must have thought that he missed an opportunity to address the Maltese people officially, and so the Church media gave a lot of prominence to his homily “during the daily televised mass on the day which coincided with the Sette Giugno national day,” as they put it. 

The subject of this homily was corruption. The Archbishop could not have put it better when he compared corruption to woodworm, warning against the danger of having a beautiful country from the outside but rotten from the inside. 

“Corruption is the country’s woodworm, beautiful on the outside and rotten on the inside,” Archbishop Scicluna said as he recounted how his father, a carpenter, was once given a bench made out of beech wood which looked beautiful, but would disintegrate if somebody sat on it because it had woodworm on the inside, “and the same applies for corruption.” 

He even referred to a specific case, saying it was unacceptable for one “to appear in front of a Parliamentary committee and take everyone for a ride by not answering questions and bringing up a thousand excuses. That is not the light that Jesus Christ wants for our country.” 

Pointing out that there is no justice if abuses are kept concealed, the Archbishop added that “if we steal from one another, disobey laws, bribe public officials for a favour or bend the law,” we will end up with a rotten society.  

The problem, dear Monsignor Scicluna, is that we have already ended up with a rotten society. The malady has progressed so much that many think it is beyond being treated successfully. 

The Maltese have a warped way of thinking when they look at corruption. Those who were sold Japanese second-hand cars that had been tampered with – to show a much lower level of mileage than they had actually been driven – are up in arms because they were duped. Anyone else who bought a second-hand Japanese car but who did not have this misfortune could not care less. Those who never bought a second-hand Japanese car just shrugged their shoulders. People only protest when they are directly hit. If not, they think it was just a game that went awry because of some insidious press report! 

Not even the press is allowed its kudos when some scandal is revealed! Many think that there is some hidden reason why the scandal is published. The public is not interested in the public interest! 

Our innate selfishness actually encourages corruption – more so when one takes some illicit advantage over his brothers and sisters! People are against corruption if it puts them in a disadvantage, but welcome it if it puts them in an advantage. 

Moreover, when some scandal is revealed, many end up thinking highly of the guts of those who break the law – rather than condemning what they did. Often, the anti-hero – the one who pulls off big capers – is not looked down upon but admired! 

This culture developed in the decades of British colonialism when the Maltese used to think that there is nothing wrong in stealing from ‘the Queen’ – meaning the British services institutions in Malta. From then on, it was a downward slide to immoral dealings and unethical practices. 

The people have now ‘trained’ politicians to bow to their pressures made because they selfishly want more than they have a right for... some sort of illegal advantage over other citizens. The voting document has been metamorphosed into a voucher for some unwarranted or illegal ‘present’. In the recent election, candidates seeking to break this trend were ‘rewarded’ by not being given enough votes to get elected. 

Corruption started at this low level and then moved to higher levels of relationships between persons in power - not just politicians – and unethical businessmen: immoral relationships that are suffocating this country.  

Unfortunately for the Archbishop, there are also stories of maladministration and corruption even in the Maltese Curia’s own administrative structures; let alone in the Vatican! The Archbishop knows about these cases but that should not hinder him from speaking out against corruption as he did. 

Sermons made by the Archbishop will not change this tragic comedy that is the state of Malta. Only courageous politicians ready to take the plunge and radically change our electoral system would have a chance to start the change that we need so much. 

Lawyers defending criminals 

I notice that some media have introduced the trend of mentioning that the Prime Minister had a professional relationship with anyone who was accused of something or other. 

It seems that there is an attempt to discredit the Prime Minister by his past ‘association’ with criminals, just because in the past he had given his professional services to the persons involved. 

In my book, this is not on. 

Guido de Marco, former President of Malta and former Deputy Prime Minister had a collection of former criminal clients that far surpassed that which Robert Abela might have. De Marco was a brilliant criminal defence lawyer and he was admired for it – not denigrated. 

So why do we have this attempt to denigrate Robert Abela in this manner? Comparisons are odious but I am sure even Robert Abela would admit that Guido was a cut above all the rest of the criminal lawyers of his time and since. 

Defending criminals is a lawyer’s job and attempting to taint Robert Abela because he once was the lawyer of certain criminals - or accused persons - is unethical. 

As Prime Minister, Robert Abela should be criticised for his political record and his political decisions – of which there are many that deserve criticism.