A voice in the po­lit­i­cal wilder­ness

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

The Arch­bishop has since his ap­point­ment pro­vided some­thing of a voice of rea­son in the wilder­ness that is the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal at­mos­phere. It is not a voice of one po­lit­i­cal party or an­other which, ir­re­spec­tive of the mes­sage, is in­stantly mis­trusted by about half the pop­u­la­tion – it is a voice of good sense, a voice of rea­son and a voice of val­ues.

Yet each and ev­ery time the Arch­bishop musters the temer­ity, as it is per­ceived by some, to crit­i­cise the Repub­lic’s state of af­fairs, he is as­saulted by mem­bers of the masses urg­ing him to stay in his place, to keep quiet.

But that is ex­actly what the Arch­bishop is do­ing – he is per­fectly in his place, per­haps more so than any of his pre­de­ces­sors in liv­ing mem­ory. Af­ter all, along with the Pres­i­dent, the Prime Min­is­ter and the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, the Arch­bishop is one of the coun­try’s lead­ers.

Mgr Sci­cluna is dar­ing to tread where his pre­de­ces­sors had held back. He has, how­ever, been crit­i­cised for his en­vi­ron­men­tal con­science and for his out­spo­ken views on the sub­ject. This news­pa­per, how­ever, wel­comes his com­ments whole­heart­edly. As one of the na­tion’s lead­ers, it is most re­as­sur­ing to see the Arch­bishop tak­ing the en­vi­ron­men­tal and moral stances that he has un­flinch­ingly taken.

The coun­try and its peo­ple hear enough from politi­cians on a day-to-day ba­sis, per­haps too much in fact. And as such, the Arch­bishop’s rea­son­ing, whether one agrees with him or not, is more than wel­come if for noth­ing more than

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his ef­forts to en­rich and raise the tone of the na­tional dis­course. And as the head of the Ro­man Catholic Church in Malta, the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion­ally-en­shrined re­li­gion, the Arch­bishop is at­tempt­ing to put the gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple it gov­erns on the moral high ground.

The Arch­bishop yes­ter­day de­liv­ered a fire­brand homily on the oc­ca­sion of the coun­try’s In­de­pen­dence Day, and he hit sev­eral nails squarely on the head when he de­liv­ered a most ap­pro­pri­ate mes­sage to the na­tion.

And in so do­ing, he spoke not for the Church nor for the gov­ern­ment or the Op­po­si­tion – he spoke for the peo­ple and for no one else. We have heard sev­eral ser­mons on good gov­er­nance over the years, ser­mons that have come from politi­cians seek­ing, for bet­ter or worse, to score po­lit­i­cal points.

But yes­ter­day the na­tion was treated to a lit­eral ser­mon on the sub­ject by one who has noth­ing to gain or lose by step­ping into this par­tic­u­lar minefield.

He could have very eas­ily ad­dressed myr­iad other sub­jects in his homily mark­ing the na­tion’s In­de­pen­dence but in­stead he took on this thorny sub­ject be­cause, in sim­ple terms, the good gov­er­nance of the Mal­tese peo­ple is re­ally and truly what in­de­pen­dence is all about.

He took the po­lit­i­cal pow­ers that be to task with com­ments such as: “Gov­er­nance based on spin, on ob­scure deal­ings, and on a con­stant ret­i­cence to al­low pub­lic scru­tiny, ir­re­spec­tive of the myr­iad laws and the solemn prom­ises, is def­i­nitely not good gov­er­nance. Gov­ern­ment based on the Or­wellian dis­re­gard of truth will one day im­plode, whereas trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity are the val­ues that will make us Mal­tese truly and rightly proud of our gov­ern­ment.”

He pro­posed four “tran­scen­den­tal val­ues,” of unity, good­ness, hon­esty and beauty to be “a cri­te­rion of good gov­er­nance, that gov­er­nance wor­thy of the hu­man fam­ily to­wards which pol­i­tics should, and hope­fully does, as­pire.” His com­ments were met with both praise and crit­i­cism in al­most equal mea­sure – in­dica­tive of the coun­try’s bit­ter po­lit­i­cal di­vide.

As for the crit­i­cism, it is per­haps the coun­try’s hang­over from the pol­i­tics of yes­ter­year that leads so many to doubt the Arch­bishop’s mes­sages. But, it must be said, this is the year 2016 and this news­pa­per could not agree more with an Arch­bishop air­ing his views on the en­vi­ron­ment, the way in which the coun­try is be­ing run and on the du­bi­ous moral­ity of what he sees tak­ing place around us on a daily ba­sis.

The Arch­bishop is clearly not one to preach from an ivory tower - he speaks with the voice of the peo­ple, and he speaks for the peo­ple. This is part of his role as one of the coun­try’s lead­ers and it is in this role that this Arch­bishop will leave his mark on the coun­try and its peo­ple.

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