[WATCH] Archbishop reassures Church schools 'will always remain Catholic'

Archbishop Charles J Scicluna: 'I want to offer a guarantee and reassure all Catholic parents that church schools would not be impoverished if they respect others, but would actually be more authentic'

Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MediaToday

Church schools in Malta will always remain Catholic, with the crucifix on classroom walls, even if they autonomously choose to start offering lessons in Islam and other religions, Malta’s archbishop insisted yesterday.

Mons. Charles J. Scicluna was answering questions put to him by MaltaToday, at the end of an event commemorating former Archbishop Joseph Mercieca on the first anniversary since his death.

Scicluna said that Church schools should respect the religious freedom of all parents, irrespective of the religion, but was quick to point out that the schools would not lose sight of their mission and ethos.

“I want to offer a guarantee and reassure all Catholic parents that church schools would not be impoverished if they respect others, but would actually be more authentic,” he said.

This comes after Scicluna’s announcement that Church schools are willing to include Islam in their curriculum divided public opinion.

Church schools would not lose their ethos or character, the archbishop reassured.

“Whoever visits a Church school will still find a crucifix on the classroom walls, will still be exposed to Catholic devotions and will get a good impression of Catholicism,” Scicluna said.

Scicluna said that he had received very positive feedback about children of non-Catholic faith attending church schools in Malta.

“And we wish to share all this with others, without using any form of force or violence to stifle their religious freedoms.”

The schools had respected the students’ religious freedom, and that led to the children having a very positive impression of Catholicism. The experience, he said, had also helped dissipate pre-existing prejudices on both sides.

“The Church schools in Malta will always remain Catholic,” Scicluna insisted. “But the Catholic ethos is one of inclusion that respects the religious freedom of Catholic parents as well as that of parents of other faiths.”

Scicluna said that serving Catholic parents would remain Church schools’ top priority, while respecting other religions and students of other faiths.

“We are not afraid of religious inclusion,” he said. “We are all brothers, called to co-exist in peace and harmony.”

Scicluna said that as Maltese are starting to consider themselves citizens of Europe and the world at large, people should also see the image of God in all human beings, including those of a different race and religion.

On Mercieca, Scicluna said all Maltese had a duty to keep the memory of the late archbishop alive to ensure his legacy lived on.

"The prophetic words of Mons. Mercieca ten years ago are extremely topical today,” he said. “They challenge the Church to remain faithful to the values of the holy sacrament of marriage without erecting barriers that will exclude some individuals."

Scicluna said that many of the sentiments carried in recent papal documents, including Amoris Laetitiae, were reflected in Mercieca’s words and behaviour during his bishopric.

“Joseph Mercieca always felt the need to be close to the people,” Scicluna said. “That he managed to do just that is a testament to his character and values.”