Article by Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi
We have welcomed Pope Francis with a warm heart. His loving presence in Malta was surely the first important message to us all. He radiated compassion, kindness and joy wherever he went, even though at times he had to struggle to walk because of leg pain.
He also had some important words to share with us. I would like to focus on five important takeaways from his address at the Presidential Palace, where he spoke about some fundamental influences for the social and political life of Malta.
- Fostering unity and peace. Unity and peace are the gifts that the Maltese people implore from God in the National Anthem: “Strengthen unity and peace among the Maltese people”. This reminds us of the importance of working together, of preferring cohesion to division, and of enhancing he shared roots and values that have forged Maltese society in its uniqueness.
- Struggling against corruption and illegality. Honesty, justice, a sense of duty and transparency are the essential pillars of a mature civil society. Our commitment to eliminate illegality and corruption should be strong like the north wind that sweeps the coasts of our country. Cultivating legality and transparency will enable the eradication of corruption and criminality.
- Safeguarding the environment. The European home is in the forefront of efforts to protect the larger home that is God’s creation. The environment in which we live is a gift. It must be kept safe from rapacious greed, from avarice and from construction speculation, which compromises not only the landscape but the very future of Malta.
- Embracing and protecting life. The basis of all solid growth is respect for the life and dignity of every man and every woman. We are called to continue to defend life from its beginning to its natural end, but also to protect it at every moment from being cast aside and deprived of care and concern. Special attention should be given to the rightful dignity of workers, the elderly and sick, as well as those young people who risk squandering all the good they have within them by following mirages that leave only emptiness in their life. These are the fruits of radical consumerism, indifference to the needs of others, and the scourge of drugs, which suppresses freedom and creates dependence.
- Welcoming persons in search of hope. We should help one another not to view the migrant as a threat. Other people are not a virus from which we need to be protected, but persons to be accepted. The migration phenomenon brings with it the burden of past injustice, exploitation, climatic changes and tragic conflicts, whose effects are now making themselves felt. One should not adopt an anachronistic isolationism – it will not produce prosperity and integration. The growing migration emergency calls for a broad-based and shared response. Civilized countries cannot approve for their own interest sordid agreements with criminals who enslave other human beings. The Mediterranean needs co-responsibility on the part of Europe, in order to become a new theatre of solidarity and not the harbinger of a tragic shipwreck of civilization.
This Easter, as we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the victory of life and love, let us reflect on these wise words of Pope Francis. May they sink deep into our hearts!
The article first appeared in the Sunday Times of Malta.