The priority list

I am informed that the legal representatives of a business concern in the locality passed on a message to the Archbishop on the matter well before the story hit the newsstands

The amount of energy Archbishop Scicluna has spent on attacking Labour has earned him a very bad reputation with many Labourites
The amount of energy Archbishop Scicluna has spent on attacking Labour has earned him a very bad reputation with many Labourites

Imagine if one had to randomly and very crudely put down all the very important things that matter in life and place them in order of priority. Let me just jot down randomly some things: clean air and water, shelter, love, peace, children, companionship, family, oneself, work, friends, siblings and cousins, garden, boat, car, books, music, beliefs…

This is not my personal priority list, but I guess it would look something like this. Let us face it, most normal people would place their children before everyone and everything else. It is normal. We do everything for our children. There are, of course, some exceptions to the rule. Those who discard their children or use their children as tokens and scapegoats. I could mention one or two. But even the worst kind of people place their children before everything else – even the wicked sometimes have a decent streak in them.

This got me thinking. What is the priority hit-list for someone in a position of power? And this thought led me to think of the Archbishop’s list. A garrulous character with very good communication skills, but if his success were rated like a business on turnover and profitability (that is, on how the faithful still embrace the Church), there is little doubt in my mind that we would describe his venture as a bad investment opportunity, in serious decline.

I’m imaging his priority list would include: Jesus, the Church, parents, beliefs, the Vatican, fellow priests, the faithful, food, music, bashing Labour, country…  Now, unlike all the rest us, Scicluna is supposedly in the same league of St Thomas More, serving Christ and the Church before everything and everyone else. But in my very subjective and perhaps mischievous opinion, I think that Scicluna’s priority list works out closer to this: Bashing Labour, the Vatican, parents, beliefs, fellow priests, food, music, the faithful, Jesus and the country.

Now that might be cruel. But the amount of energy Scicluna has spent in his own time, supposedly dedicated to pastoral work, but instead focused on attacking Labour, has earned him a very bad reputation with many Labourites.

I am informed that the legal representatives of a business concern in the locality passed on a message to the Archbishop on the matter well before the story hit the newsstands

Scicluna knows his most fervent segments of churchgoers and Church activists have their origin in Labour constituencies and yet he continues irking them by showing his political bias and prejudices. And I guess, proof of his political inclinations is the new look at RTK and Newsbook which have an editorial policy far more aggressive and anti-Labour than NET or in-Nazzjon.

Obviously, if Scicluna were completely focused on his Church and flock, he would find ways of doing and saying what he wants to say without seeing his dominion becoming smaller and smaller. Yet, he gives me the impression that he is looking for pastures far and beyond Maltese shores, where size matters and Island politics do not exist and his career can develop further.

It is not all about God, you know. There is a lot of politics in the Church. And if I wanted proof of how political, with a small ‘p’, Scicluna has turned out to be, one could experience it this week, when the Church media spoke to the provincial of the Augustinian Order and asked him specifically if the Archbishop knew of their commercial deal in St Julian’s – that effectively made the Augustinian Order partners in environmental ‘sin’, which includes the rampant and wanton destruction of what is left of open spaces in Malta and Gozo.

The choreographed answer was that Scicluna knew nothing of the sort. Which is, of course, something I find difficult to believe because I am informed that the legal representatives of a business concern in the locality passed on a message to the Archbishop on the matter well before the story hit the newsstands.

And to rub salt into the wound, a week before, the Church commission on the environment chastised the DB Group on the proposed development at the former ITS site and went on to write an open letter to the vice-president of the Hard Rock multinational company based in the United States about their corporate social responsibility commitments.

This time round the commission will have to do the same, I guess, perhaps by citing some wonderful script from the New Testament about God and the Earth in the hope that the Augustinian provincial might be brought to heel.

The moral of it all is that the Church today might as well be the last last entity to talk or lecture about the rape of this country by greedy developers who cannot satisfy themselves with one or two or three developments. Over centuries, the Church in Malta inherited hectares of land and vast footprints of property from either rich feudal lords or faithful idiots who bequeathed their earthly possessions for the greater love of the Catholic Church that in turn, over the years, has made hundreds of thousands of euros, to say the least, from the commercial sale of such land.

The history of this Church is certainly not a magnanimous one, not based on equality or in favour of change. It is one of dominance, tradition and power. In many cases, it has been a temple of hypocrisy. Castigating sexual promiscuity only to realise that in many cases sexual abuse of the worst kind (paedophilia) happened under its own roof. Talk against opulence but then promote lavishness and waste of resources in its annual festivities. And preaching about conservation and the environment, to be itself – or at least one of its orders – a catalyst in destroying nature and open spaces.

I’m not a religious type and perhaps a slightly spiritual individual with all the usual defects of your average Maltese. But I was baptised a Catholic and immersed myself in its ritualism for half a century with all the enthusiasm foisted upon me by a good Catholic family from Birkirkara. I’m more or less the same age as Archbishop Scicluna, born in the shadow of the bigotry suffered by Labourites in the sixties, the ‘Interdett’. Time, I thought, would make people more mature and humble and usher us into a brave new world.

But Scicluna still has to realise that his central role as pastoral leader in this small nation can only be effective if he wins over the hearts and minds of all his remaining flock by example. A recent poll by MaltaToday confirmed how his bias has lost him a considerable degree of trust.  With his language, actions and his brazen one-sided media he has shown complete disregard for his mission.

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