Malta’s latest Archbishop is one of its most outspoken ever – but is that good or bad?
As an organisation, the Roman Catholic Church represents more than 1.25 billion people worldwide. It is one of the world’s oldest religious institutions and its leader, the Pope, is one of the most respected and influential people on the planet.
In Malta, the Catholic tradition dates back almost 2,000 years – we were, as we are quite well aware, one of the first nations in the world to convert to Catholicism. Today, that tradition and its values are still strong and while many may argue that the number of people attending Mass on Sundays is dwindling, the reality remains that even many people who are not active Catholics still hold the religion’s teachings to heart.
As such, the local leader of the church, the Archbishop, represents a large chunk of the population. But should he really speak out?
Well, why not?
Yes, secularisation is a healthy process every society should take. The State’s first priority should always be the people – be they Christians, Muslims, Atheists or Pastafarians. Rules and justice should not be administered according to what one religion says, but according to what morality and common sense dictate.
Yet, the Church (and every other religious institution) represents its members and thus speaks on behalf of those people. Religions in themselves are also beacons of goodness – it’s the people who poison them, after all.
I remember when the divorce debate was in full swing and the Church used Jesus’s face on a billboard in Sliema to scare the masses into voting ‘No’. Many people were, understandably, outraged that the Church had the audacity to do such a thing. The same (in terms of people’s reaction) happened recently when the Archbishop spoke out about the environment, about the American University of Malta (or what was supposed to be the AUoM) and many other things.
His comments were quite politically charged and many wondered if we were returning to the time when the Church thought it could and should direct people’s lives… Back when people were buried in landfills for voting for a particular political party.
But the reality is that things are different now. Today, the Church is actually using its power and influence not to dictate how we should live – although it does try to do so at times – but to hold the government and those in power accountable. It points out the bad when it needs to; and thank God it does, because its voice has much more reach than mine and, probably, yours.
What’s important to remember, however, is that the Church is just like any other organisation. When it makes sense and when it’s right, then it should be listened to, and when what it says goes against the country’s popular belief, then it should simply be ignored.
Oh, but never try to silence it because we’ll all suffer the consequences.
Do you agree with James? Let us know in the comment section below.