A fake bishop, impostors and State dinners

Fake poiticians are commonplace, all over the world. But fake bishops, has it come to this now? 

Following a brief period of deafening silence, Bishop Mario Grech found a way how to address Daphne’s execution, in his own, inimitable way. He followed Corinthians 5:11 to a tee
Following a brief period of deafening silence, Bishop Mario Grech found a way how to address Daphne’s execution, in his own, inimitable way. He followed Corinthians 5:11 to a tee

That we have fake politicians, the world over, we know. And, sadly, we’ve come to accept it as being an intrinsic part, almost a requisite, of modern times. They are fake and spineless, and yet we trust them with our lives, and the future of our children.

But fake bishops, really, has it come to this, now?

On your guard dear men and women of the cloth – for on the loose is a fake Bishop, aided by two impostors. They are “popping up in various churches and convents.”

Do we need another bishop? We have two – well one, the other is an Archbishop, and both have the, terrible, habit of calling a spade by its name. They are a pain in the, authorities’ neck, really. 

How dare they, the brightest crayons in the box among us (and there are many who protest) intrude into matters which are not spiritual by nature? What follows is for a Maltese reading audience. No translation necessary – and it’s better too, lest I be accused of being a ‘traitor’ and of trying to ‘attack my fellow Maltese abroad’ – for this newspaper is read worldwide: 

Charles J. Scicluna wouldn’t turn down a State banquet, but his independence of mind and ability to say the right thing at the most uncomfortable of times, is not conditioned by lavish banquets

“Dan ma jarahx il-Papa. Hemm dawk l-Isqfijiet, iridu jindahlu f’kollox - qazzew ‘l Alla li suppost qed iservu. Ahjar jaraw kemm nies mhux qed imorru l-quddies, u mela jigu jindhalu fil-politika!”

Yes folks, Facebook is littered with these words of wisdom. Now back to the real Bishop, and Archbishop.

Mario Grech

Bishop Mario Grech is a man I admire, for a while I ceased to do so, and now, he’s back in my good books. His silence, following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, bothered me. And that’s to put it mildly – for, honest to god, I was livid. To make matters worse, I was told that his Curia did not fly the flag half-mast on the day of her funeral, which was a day of national mourning. I mean really, what was he thinking I asked myself, frustrated that a man I so deeply admired seemed oblivious to the desperate situation we’re in. 

I was tempted to call His Excellency, and demand an explanation for what I thought was a shocking display of indifference. But I decided not to. I gave him time to prove me wrong. And he did. A few days ago, he followed Corinthians 5:11 to a tee: “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother to be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no not to eat.”

In not so many words, Grech is to turn down invitations for State dinners. He ‘doesn’t want’ the (Gozo) Curia to be seen in a too-close-for-comfort occasions with the ‘circles of power’. 

That was Grech’s way of disassociating himself from the powers that be, and, of course, he’s not suggesting, I presume, that his hosts carry the sins of those which Corinthians 5:11 had in mind.

Drugs, HE said

Mario Grech is known for his fiery Sunday sermons. He speaks loudly about the sorry state our society is in, the corner we’ve foolishly planted ourselves in.

A few weeks ago all hell broke loose, and no heaven could save him from the flak he got when he committed the grave sin of saying it as it is: narcotics, the Gozitan Bishop told us, are a regular feature in our – aehm – religious feasts. The public activities I mean, for God forbids that drugs are consumed during religious functions. No, we’re not there as yet.

A high ranking police officer who spoke to the Sunday newspapers on condition of anonymity – for in this part of the world, high ranking police officers who are meant to be brave, speak to newspapers on condition of anonymity – objected to the Bishop’s statements, and asked him to report any information of wrongdoing which he might have to his Force.

That must have qualified for the ‘most-hilarious-statement-of-the-year-award’. 

‘U ijja, mhux xorta’

Picture this. The Bishop of Gozo walks into the Victoria Police Station. The police officer at the desk is busy browsing on Facebook. Mgr Grech coughs, to draw his attention. The police officer, surprised, taken aback, slightly pissed off for being disturbed whilst browsing the Facebook page of a colleague, asks him, still sitting down, what brings him there.

‘Drugs’, Grech tells him, ‘they are consumed at the village feasts’.

‘Okay, Father’, the police officer tells Him, ‘Which feast, please?’

‘A good number of them’, he tells him. ‘Sorry, hi’, the officer replies, ‘But without proof, we can’t do anything’.

At this point, His Excellency, on the verge of losing his cool and telling the officer to leave the comfort of his desk and go into the real world, retorts with, ‘Did you say, proof, I mean, come on, it’s manifestly clear that drug abuse is rife at these occasions...”

Only to be met with ‘Okay, father, u ijja, ara, any proof, mhux xorta, imbaghad naraw, here, this is my number, call me filkas’.

The Bishop walks out, visibly angry; the officer resumes his Facebook browsing. The colleague, a male, had just uploaded a photo of his English breakfast. It was his day off. The officer logged out, feeling worse now, knowing that while his colleague was on holiday, here he was, behind a desk, in the scorching heat of August, with the Bishop of Gozo bothering him about his, stupid, ‘drug abuse is rife during festas’ statement.

Charles J. Scicluna

Across the channel, we have Charles J. Scicluna, who wouldn’t turn down an invitation for a State banquet, but whose independence of mind and the ability to say the right thing at the most uncomfortable of times, is not conditioned by lavish banquets, and mouth-watering desserts – notwithstanding his sweet tooth. 

Scicluna doesn’t mince his words. In the days which followed Caruana Galizia’s murder, he showed leadership to believers and non-believers alike, at a time when political leaders, who are meant to show leadership precisely in such occasions, failed to do so – hampered, nonetheless, by their personal relationship or lack of, with the murdered journalist. 

A lone, strong, voice

Scicluna inherited a Curia in dire need of strong, stable leadership – and despite the many hurdles and obstacles from within, and especially from outside the Church, he marches on, wreaking havoc where and when needed. Scicluna knows that the Church, as an important institution, must deal with heavenly, but also earthly matters especially.

The unfortunate truth, however, is that save for a few brave priests, Scicluna is hampered by the indifference to social injustices, corruption, and the meltdown of the State institutions so visible amongst priests, especially those working with our parishes, who seem to be more concerned with the village festa, rather than the police force which is a shambles, and a country going to the dogs.

This explains why a fake Bishop aided by impostors would probably be welcomed and greeted with open arms. They’ll serve their purpose in a country where government rides roughshod over peoples’ rights, and is supported by a large section of the population notwithstanding. 

This is the sorry state we’re in.

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