[WATCH] President calls on bishops and MPs to help combat racism

Marie Louise Coleiro Preca praises 'constructive and vigilant' Opposition, calls for a more expedient justice process

President tells bishops that Church still has an important role to play. Photos: Ray Attard
President tells bishops that Church still has an important role to play. Photos: Ray Attard
Opposition leader extends warm New Year's wishes to President
Opposition leader extends warm New Year's wishes to President
Speaker wishes President a Happy New Year on behalf of Parliament
Speaker wishes President a Happy New Year on behalf of Parliament
President tells Chief Justice that legal process must become more expedient.
President tells Chief Justice that legal process must become more expedient.
Opposition leader extends warm wishes to President
Opposition leader extends warm wishes to President
President calls on MPs to be a model for society
President calls on MPs to be a model for society
President exchanges New Year's greetings at the Palace. Video: Ray Attard

President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said that she is willing to work with the Church to help tackle racism and xenophobia.

“Racism and xenophobia are the enemies of democracy and without dialogue they will be allowed to flourish,” she said during an exchange of New Year’s greetings with Apostolic Administrator Charles Scicluna and Archbishop Emeritus Paul Cremona.

“I am a firm believer in dialogue and solidarity, two attributes that Pope Francis has displayed,” Coleiro Preca said. “The Pope has helped improve relations between the USA and Cuba to a level that I’ve never witnessed, and he has publicly said that he wants to open the Catholic Church up to everyone.

From his part, Scicluna praised the President for “showing the human face of the state” and said that the Church wants Malta to become a place where everybody feels welcome, as “part of a big family with one beating heart”.

In a separate exchange of pleasantries between MPs from both sides on the House, Coleiro Preca said that MPs should behave as models for the respect of diversity.

"MPs are elected to represent the people and what goes on in parliament happens in the name of the people," she said. "There’s a lot of prejudice out there. I don't think that the Maltese population is racist, but that they follow by example. Just as a child will behave properly if his parent does, so will the people start respecting diversity if MPs behave like proper adults who respect each other. No one enters politics in order to launch personal attacks at others.

‘Pleased to see a constructive and vigilant Opposition’

In another exchange with Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, the President praised the Opposition for being constructive and vigilant.

She also thanked Busuttil for the Opposition’s historic decision to vote in favour of her nomination as President earlier this year- the first time in Malta’s history that the Opposition has voted in favour of a President from the governing party.

“I am proud that we voted in favour of your nomination,” Busuttil told Coleiro Preca. “We did so because we believed that you could truly become a President of everyone and you’ve become just that.”

‘People deserve a more expedient justice process’

The President had stern words to say when she met up with members of the judiciary, led by Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri.

“While I realize that the work of a judge is not easy, there is still work that must be done to ensure that the people have access to the expedient justice that they deserve,” Coleiro Preca said, pointing at a recent case where a man was cleared of rape charges following a court case that had dragged out over the past nine years.

“Such long delays have a massive impact, both on the accused and their families, and nobody deserves to pass through them,” Coleiro Preca said.   

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