The PN’s angst

In the current situation, the question of who is the next PN leader is practically irrelevant

Bernard Grech
Bernard Grech

In his speech at the end of the PN’s annual general council, last Sunday, Bernard Grech touched on what is really wrong with the PN: “We still look down on people. Nobody is better than anybody. We need to believe this: that nobody is worse than us and we are not better than anyone else.”

Whether it is just one of those coincidences or not, this important part of Grech’s speech was not given prominence in the media except for an analysis written by James Debono in MaltaToday.

The reality is that the PN’s anguish is the direct result of the attitude prevalent behind the way in which the PN is perceived to act and react: they think that they are morally and intellectually superior and those who support Labour are either intellectually ignorant or immorally and unethically greedy. In other words, the powers that be in the PN speak and act as if they believe that anyone who votes Labour is necessarily on the wrong side of an imaginary ethical divide. This is all nonsense.

As with all generalisations, this attitude cannot be correct. It ignores the fact that there are genuine Labourites who traditionally support Labour as a matter of principle and those who in the present circumstances have chosen to support Labour for their own good reasons. Then there are those who are miffed with the way Labour has acted in power but feel uncomfortable if they were to support the PN – precisely because of the PN’s misguided sense of entitlement and irrevocable sense of moral superiority.

As happens in many cases, those who adopt a ‘holier than thou’ attitude actually reek of hypocrisy and the people in the street can sense this much more than is surmised. If one takes a look at articles, news items and anti-government contributions in the media, one cannot but be impressed with the general negative attitude towards Labour. Many of the scandals unearthed are true and merit publication and action; but the commentary about them is poisoned by a ‘holier than thou’ mentality, when the negative judgement should be left for the readers to reach in their own good time.

Depicting these scandals as an indication of a presumed moral inferiority does not make them worse. It turns every issue into a party political one: another episode of the never-ending series ‘us against them’. This, not so surprisingly, provokes people who support the current administration to invent excuses to justify their own political stance. That is why people keep supporting Labour when it is obvious Labour does not deserve this support.

The PN is a living contradiction: in its electoral battles, it seeks to obtain the support of those whom it denigrates as morally and intellectually inferior. This is an impossible struggle. The PN can only start winning the trust of more people if it humbly accepts that it is not entitled to believe it is better than others. Bernard Grech is completely right on this one – even though the way he said it seems to be a confirmation that he has given up on the quest for a return of the PN as a serious contender for power.

Election after election, the PN is getting drubbings of historical proportions. And yet they keep marching in the same misguided direction, much like the mythical herds of lemmings that are alleged to commit mass suicide by jumping off seaside cliffs.

Incidentally, the myth of lemmings possessing a bizarre instinct to destroy themselves is widely believed as it provides an irresistible metaphor for human behaviour.

Given his evident limitations, Bernard Grech has not managed to overcome the struggle against the false sense of entitlement within the PN – a struggle that still goes on. Last Sunday he ended up pleading to this end, fully knowing that his task has become quite impossible and sending subtle messages about the end of his sprint as PN leader.

So the press immediately sprung into action trying to guess who the next PN leader will be.

In the current situation, the question of who is the next PN leader is practically irrelevant. More so, unless the party does not start to understand what Bernard Grech told the PN faithful last Sunday: “We need to believe this: that nobody is worse than us and we are not better than anyone else.”

Until this happens, the PN’s angst will remain a millstone hanging around its neck.

Clergy sex abuse in Europe

Portugal is the latest country in Europe where the Catholic Church is investigating historic cases of sex abuse.

After more than a year of interviews and investigations, Portugal’s independent commission on Church-related sexual violence against minors this week published the conclusions of its investigations. It covered cases of abuse dating back to 1950.

The independent commission for the prevention of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults was set up by the Portuguese Catholic bishops’ conference in November 2021. Composed of qualified lay people and ‘some non-Catholics’, it collected more than 500 validated testimonies, although the revelations involve a total number of victims estimated to be at least 4,815.

This follows similar investigations carried out in Ireland, Spain, Fance, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Poland. Hundreds of complaints in these countries were investigated.

Pope Benedict XVI, who died in December, was also questioned in early 2022 for his handling of pedocriminality in Germany when he was Archbishop of Munich.

The Irish investigation is considered to be one of the most thorough investigations conducted in Europe, resulting in eight hundred abusers, including priests, being incriminated.

Incredibly, the Catholic Church in Italy has refused to conduct an independent investigation, but several lay associations have spoken out on the subject. Nine of them joined together in February 2022 to demand the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry on the model of the one held in France.

And just a few weeks ago the Italian association Rete l’ABUSO, in conjunction with the international association ECA Global (Ending Clergy Abuse), published a report listing 418 cases of priests convicted or accused of sexual violence against minors over the past 13 years.