Prelate Defends Pope After Maltese Backlash

News: World News
by Jules Gomes  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 5, 2022   

Francis triggers outrage in Malta with provocative spiel on immigration

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VALLETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) - The archbishop of Malta has rushed to defend Pope Francis after the pontiff's comments on immigration triggered a fierce backlash on Maltese social media. 

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Abp. Scicluna helps Pope Francis on his Malta visit

Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the island's controversial pro-LGBTQ+ prelate, compared the islanders' rejection of Francis' message to the Jews rejecting Jesus and crucifying Him.  

"Good Friday was the moment where Jesus was rejected up to the assassination. We didn't like the message, so we killed the messenger," Scicluna told The Times of Malta in a video interview Tuesday. 

"Obviously, we didn't kill the pope, he is safe in Rome, but I think we need healing here," the prelate said, noting Francis was showing the Maltese "a way to confront ourselves with the challenges and open ourselves to each other because that brings peace — harmony — but also that joy that ensures an extraordinary quality of life."

Voicing Outrage

Locals erupted with outrage on social media after the pontiff accused Malta's migrant-weary populace of cultivating an "anachronistic isolationism, which will not produce prosperity and integration."

"According to its Phoenician etymology, Malta means 'safe harbor,'" Francis pontificated. "Nonetheless, given the growing influence of recent years, fear and insecurity have nurtured a certain discouragement and frustration."

It felt like he hated us Maltese. He looked angry and was only happy when with illegal immigrants.

Lashing out at the Maltese complaint regarding lack of space for immigrants on the tiny island, Francis argued that, with a new flood of refugees from war-torn Ukraine, some countries remain "indifferent onlookers."

"It felt like he hated us Maltese," a Catholic politician, who requested anonymity, told Church Militant. "He looked angry and was only happy when with illegal immigrants."

Francis meets illegal immigrants Saturday at the John XXIII Peace Lab in Ħal-Far
 

"As for Abp. Scicluna's rebuke, it came across as a shepherd insulting his ever-dwindling flock," the politician lamented. "Most people feel betrayed by the Church, which is coming to resemble a people-smuggling non-governmental organization."

Locals lambasted the pontiff in Maltese and English on various Facebook posts, writing: "He just called us racists," "He should take them to the Vatican," "He is an accomplice to the crime," "He is a false prophet and should have stayed at the Vatican," and "While Francis was here, a boat was waiting to come in."

LGBTQ+ people are welcome in churches as love is love.

"There are plenty more, but I would not publish them because they can be quite descriptive and some even verge on sacrilegious," a faithful Maltese Catholic told Church Militant.

"There is so much anger, frustration and hatred, and that doesn't help the quality of life we want to live. What are we ensuring by showing such venom? Is it going to make our life better? Is it going to write away the challenges that we face?" asked Scicluna, in his response to the backlash.

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Church media films a trans activist praising Francis

Telling the Truth?

"The majority of the illegal immigrants trafficked to Malta on rickety boats leaving the Libyan coastline are not genuine refugees but economic migrants — and are mainly Muslim young men aged between 18 and 28," Dr. Philip Beattie, president of the Maltese Society for Christian Civilisation — Pro Malta Christiana, told Church Militant.

Beattie said that Francis and the island's prelates were repeatedly reminding them how the Maltese welcomed St. Paul when he was shipwrecked on the island, as recorded in Acts 28. 

Beattie elaborated: 

The inference that the Maltese should live up to their forefathers' reputation by accepting the unbridled, mass- disordered influxes of illegal Muslim immigrants that have flooded the island since 2005 isn't lost on anybody.  

What is conveniently forgotten is that St. Paul left the island at the first available opportunity after sheltering here for three months and gave the Maltese the greatest gift any foreign visitor ever gave them: the gift of the Catholic faith. On this matter, the pontiff was silent during his two-day tour of the Maltese islands.  

However, Abp. Scicluna defended the pope's message as an "authoritative witness to the truth that was spoken to Maltese society with great love, compassion and charity" and "in such a candid way but with such compassion and good humor."

Most people feel betrayed by the Church, which is coming to resemble a people-smuggling non-governmental organization.

"We need to follow up on the important words the pope gave us, both as Church and as Maltese society, and start from there in order to create a new culture of being Church," Scicluna said, emphasizing he was also impressed with the "extraordinary welcome" Malta showed Francis. 

Predictable Pandering? 

The Church's official media filmed a transgender activist welcoming Francis while waving a light blue, pink and white  transgender flag. 

"I thank the pope I am feeling welcome in churches, and I can deliver my message," the activist gushed. "LGBTQ+ people are welcome in churches as love is love. Pope Francis appreciates youth, and we give praise to the Lord for that." 

Organizers canceled the crucifix from the papal podium because Pope Francis did not want to offend illegal Muslim migrants during the climax of his Malta trip, Church Militant reported Monday. 

Instead, recycled plastic bottles with red blobs representing life jackets used by migrants were used to design the backdrop for the pope's address to migrants at the John XXIII Peace Lab in Ħal-Far on Saturday, a voluntary organization run by leftist Franciscan friar Fr. Dionysius Mintoff.

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