[WATCH] ‘I admire Joseph Muscat as a man of his word’ – Archbishop

Archbishop Charles Scicluna praises Joseph Muscat as a man of his word, calls for citizenship to children born in Malta 

Archbishop Charles Scicluna has praised Joseph Muscat as 'a man of his word'
Archbishop Charles Scicluna has praised Joseph Muscat as 'a man of his word'

Archbishop Charles Scicluna had rare words of praise to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, describing him as a man of his word who will keep his promise to distribute wealth more fairly.

“There are many things that I agree with Muscat on, and it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where I disagree with him,” Scicluna said in an interview with Saviour Balzan that was broadcast on tonight’s edition of Xtra.

“Muscat promised that he will strive for wealth to be distributed more fairly, and that he will not forget the people who are struggling to make ends meet. I’m glad that he promised that and I’m sure that he’ll carry it out, and I admire him as a man who sticks to his word.”

He also had a few words of praise for the Labour Party, urging it not to lose its “social soul”, which he said did a lot of good to Malta over the years.

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Scicluna denied using different weights and measures when assessing Labour and PN, insisting that he tries his best to treat both parties equally.

“If you had to look at all of my tweets, you would notice that I never comment on individual politicians. I do comment on government decisions because, while I respect the state’s authority, I have a right to speak out on issues that impact our health, environment, culture, heritage and morals.”

Although he has previously sounded warnings against “hate blogs”, Scicluna refused to answer as to whether he views Daphne Caruana Galizia and Glenn Bedingfield in the same light.

“I would rather not enter the fray, because I believe that political dialogue is at its most effective when it is serene.”

‘Malta-born children of immigrants should be given citizenship’

During the interview, Scicluna also threw his weight behind calls for children of immigrants born in Malta to be granted Maltese citizenship. 

“Children of Maltese immigrants were given citizenship of the countries they were born in, so why shouldn’t we give citizenship to the children of immigrants born in Malta?” he said. “After all, the Maltese are ultimately all Sicilian immigrants ourselves. What is the problem with applying the same criteria we used on ourselves to other people who are born here?”

He recounted how he was instantly granted Canadian citizenship when he was born in Canada, despite the fact that both his parents were Maltese immigrants.

He urged the Maltese people to stick to the same set of values that had led them to welcoming St Paul of Tarsus on the island.

Lawyers Anna Mallia and Arthur Galea Salomone clashed over immigrtion on Xtra
Lawyers Anna Mallia and Arthur Galea Salomone clashed over immigrtion on Xtra

However, he took a cautious stance when asked whether the public’s anti-immigrant sentiment is being fuelled by the shortage of politicians who speak forcefully in favour of immigrants.

“The politicians are listening to the public, as do I. We must emphasize that the people knocking on our country’s doors are human beings, and that welcoming them to Malta won’t be a major challenge at all.”

The Archbishop’s comments on immigration drew contrasting reactions from the two guests – lawyers Anna Mallia and Arthur Galea Salomone.

Mallia brazenly argued that failed asylum seekers give birth in Malta as a tactic to give themselves a higher chance of being able to remain in the country.

“It’s not the children’s fault, but should we just tell the immigrants to stay here and have more children, even though they were rejected asylum? I don’t have a solution to the problem, but I cannot encourage it.”

Galea Salomone questioned why Malta cannot be more welcoming to people in need when it is selling Maltese citizenship to people who can afford it.

“Jesus was a refugee and St Paul was a refugee which means that Malta wouldn’t even be a Christian country if it weren’t for a refugee. There is an element of fear out there because we’re a small country but we must open up the immigration debate. If we are ready to sell passports to people who can afford it, why can’t we also be more welcoming to people in need?”

Tension with GWU: ‘I can forgive… but one must stop lying’

Tension with GWU: ‘I can forgive… but one must stop lying’

The tension that erupted between the General Workers Union-owned newspaper l-Orizzont – run by editor Josef Caruana – and the Maltese archdiocese late last year is still high, with Scicluna telling Balzan that he has no problem in forgiving, “but one most stop the attacks and the lies”.

“I feel that I am in the right and I will say so; but when a person launches a campaign of continuous insults, I will first need to take a deep breath before I can feel that all is good,” he said.

Balzan commented that there was also the element of forgiveness, to which Scicluna immediately replied that forgiveness also needed truth and justice.

“I’m not saying that I do not forgive, but one must stop lying and attacking when he shouldn’t be doing so.”

The issue between the newspaper and Scicluna surrounds accusations that the GWU was making money off an employment scheme managed by the union.

A similar scheme is run by the Union Haddiema Maghqudin.

When Scicluna joined in the controversy surrounding the scheme, the GWU accused him of adopting “a malicious attitude” against them.

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