Letters: 13th April 2014

The God excuse

To me, God is no more than a myth, a figment of man’s imagination, an excuse for everything one cannot account for, a means of holding power over people.  God says etc, therefore you will, or else……  Mintoff once told me of his treatment by Gonzi along those lines.  Mintoff told him where to get off!  

I have no recollection of Jesus going around calling himself God, let alone his mother describing herself as the mother of God.  The multiplicity of gods worshiped by Greeks and Romans had some merits in targeting the right one to help achieve one wishes.  We are sometimes back to this when some of us will be asking God to make sure Man United win, others pleading for Chelsea.  Some even think their favourite personality is God.

Jews, Christians and Muslims boiled it done to one God, even if they could not remain united in how to worship him.  And this is when the trouble starts and is the major cause of conflicts, yesterday, today and, unless someone gets to grips and acknowledges the problem honestly, tomorrow too.  

Perhaps the Catholic Church, especially if they got the rest of Christian sects on board, is best placed to attempt this, they being the piggy in the middle.  New Pope Francis makes encouraging noises. There is after all nothing much wrong with Christ’s teachings, as recorded in the New Testament, and boils down to common sense as to how people should behave. So why bring in God?  

After a brim-full of religion from age seven, and now in the autumn/winter of my life, I see it all as a big con and here in Malta we have fallen for it hook, line and sinker.  I am now happy to describe myself as an “agnostic Christian”.  Surprisingly, I have found many friends, relations, and acquaintances share these thoughts. They match yours. Keep it up.

Anthony de TraffordValletta

Reinstating Latin studies for seminarians

For many years, the Department of Classics and Archaeology has been teaching Latin to seminarians at the University of Malta. Prof. Vella, at the behest of Mgr Vincent Borg in 1989, then Dean of the Faculty of Theology, devised a programme of Latin study based on an hour’s instruction per week for a whole year.  

This programme served several purposes: it whetted the appetite of the students for the study of Latin; it offered the students access to the Classical Sources in the original language and, most of all, it fulfilled Canon Law 249, which states, “The programme of priestly formation is to provide that students not only are carefully taught their native language but also understand Latin well and have a suitable understanding of those foreign languages which seem necessary or useful for their formation or for the exercise of pastoral ministry.”

This University’s course provided the seminarians with a very solid foundation should they have wished to continue their academic studies in Rome, where a sound knowledge of Latin is required.  As for the seminarians who preferred a pastoral path, the study of Latin allowed them to be able to understand the Liturgy and the parish’s registers better.

In 2013, this course, without any consultation with Prof. Vella and in defiance of Canon Law, stopped being offered to the seminarians at the University of Malta.  The Malta Classics Association is dismayed over this decision and hopes that this situation will be rectified in the next academic year.

Maria Giuliana Fenech, P.R.O., Malta Classics Association