Maltese racism and indifference towards plight of migrants is shocking - Gozo Bishop

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said Europe's criminal actions could not justify Malta follwoing suit while calling on both the government and the Opposition not to given in to populism on migration

Bishop Mario Grech
Bishop Mario Grech

Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said on Sunday that he was shocked by the the indifference being shown by a large segment of the population to the plight of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life.

Grech said that the attitude towards migrants was similar to that present in Europe when the “Jews were deported, in the last century”.

Addressing the congregation in Kercem, Grech said it was worrying that there was so much racism within Maltese society and questioned how it was possible for people to attend mass, and celebrate feasts, while ignoring the suffering of others.

He said that for many, the crucifix had simply become a part of the furniture and did not help them appreciate what Jesus had been through. “We can do nothing for Jesus’ agony on the cross, but we surely can do something for Jesus present in those who are stuggling,” Grech said.

The outspoken bishop described European leaders’ attitude towards migration in the Mediterranean as “scandalous”.

He said that some countries, taking the lead of the Europe’s lack of sincerity and political will, had taken measures to prevent NGOs from carrying out rescue missions in the Mediterranean, preventing migrants from arriving at a safe port.

He said that the decision to stop NGO vessels was all the more grave when one considered that maritime law required seafarers to rescue people at sea. Europe’s actions, he said, were tantamonut to genocide.

Grech acknowledged that Malta cannot deal with migration on its own, but insisted that Europe’s “criminal” behaviour in this regard could not justify Malta in acting in the same way.

"Europe's inability to address this humanitarian crisis shows it is seriously sick, it has lost its social bearings. Europe had thrown its founding principles overboard, principles such as solidarity, justice, equality, and others..."
The safeguarding of human life, he insisted, comes before any economic and political calculation.

“My appeal to the government and the Opposition is not to surrender to populism. While seeking a common front in dealings with Europe they should stand by these poor people instead of flexing muscles, which could lead to more people drowning.

"It is also important in such a delicate sector not to allow institutional discrimination between the well-off foreigners and the poor, those coming from the East and those coming from Africa."

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