Italy, tremors and Brussels
As I write this piece, there are more and more tremors being felt along central Italy, from Perugia downwards to the historical centre of Rome, in the aftermath of the overnight quakes that destroyed so many precious old buildings, but happily resulted on
Not even that is new. Even well before the Greece, Portugal and Spain debacles, as every year Brussels was taking it upon itself to manage and control finances from a distance, often causing concern and arousing anger among member states that find they have to trim projects and programmes by way of avoiding the wrath of European and global financial and banking institutions which, paradoxically, were largely responsible for the various crises that hit – and, years on, continue to gnaw at – the eurozone. area, killing hundreds of people and destroying whole towns and villages. Renzi typically rushed into the breach and promised help in building new, safer housing and providing aid, temporary shelter and support for the thousands of victims and their families. There have been Italian governments before, from the old, crusty Christian Democrats and Socialists to the Berlusconi bandwagon, promising the same in the past, only to fail to keep their word. There were hundreds of families, referred to as the terremotati in nearby Sicily, who had to live in containers for a whole in the Middle East from crossing their borders, Italy, with the help of international rescue organisations and even tiny Malta’s limited means, has been saving and sheltering thousands of them. At a massive financial cost despite the supply of special EU funds.
So, if member states can ignore agreements on a fairer distribution system of refugee intake, why should Italy even bother to accept a lower 2017 deficit percentage target? It certainly has more than enough on its plate, thank you, and I see no conclusion to the stalemate other than that of total capitulation by Brussels. on such matters is forfeited. The threat to thousands of jobs and the loss of millions of income would be an insignificant tremor to Brussels, but a major catastrophe for Malta and the Maltese.
The Maltese government has, on both occasions, rightly made no bones about it and declared its outright opposition to it.
Oh no, not again
At a time when it is so good to observe the Catholic Church coming out of its medieval shell under Pope Francis, it somehow feels like having a sudden flat tyre to read what the Vatican has lately been saying to its believers about cremation. In a two-page instruction, it has specified the care and handling of the “faithfully departed” that have been burned to cinders rather than placed in the ground.
While it has not gone back to its senseless opposition to cremation, it is now dilly-dallying with what is to be done with the ashes. The new document confoundingly says that if Catholics insist on being cremated, they should know “church officials no longer permit” – oh, no, not that terminology again – the scattering of human ashes. Urns must also be kept in “sacred places” and not at home or divided among the family.
It all took me back to my childhood inside the Kalkara museum premises where we were often told about the Ġudizzju Universali (the Final Judgement) with stories about the dead coming back to life and queuing up to be judged by an army of angels descending from the sky. Needless to say, as kids before the Harry Potter age we had to resort to our own wild imagination and I remember us, after the lesson, laughingly describing how, for example, people who had died in an explosion with their bones blasted all over the place and no proper burial, would have bones flying about until they form into the perfect shape of the “faithfully departed”.
Boys will be boys, of course, and the stories that we concocted would have been perfect fodder for today’s scribblers of vampire TV series and movies. We didn’t know anything about cremation at the time, so there could not have been any macabre yarns about ashes drifting out of vases like in a scene from The Mummy!
The new Vatican line on cremation in fact prohibits the scattering of any ashes in the air, on earth and in water, as well as keeping them at home in a commemorative item, such as decorated containers. In saying so, it cites “the dignity and respect for the human body”. But what body? Cremation, clean, hygienic and practical as far as available territory is concerned, in fact respects the person and the society that he or she has served.