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VALLETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) - A prominent pro-LGBTQ+ Maltese priest is demonizing unvaccinated people as "factories of variants" while citing Pope Francis in his crusade against vaccine skeptics.
Father Joe Borg is popularizing the Maltese slur "Il-fabbriki tal-varjant" in his weekly column for Newsbook — a leading media outlet owned by the Catholic Church in Malta.
"The dehumanizing term is spreading fast on the island and being used to stigmatize and exclude unvaccinated persons," a priest from Malta told Church Militant Thursday.
Responding to Borg, Fr. David Muscat, rector of Our Lady's chapel in Mosta, narrates how a churchgoer accused him of daring to "mix with the unvaccinated crowd, the fabbriki tal-varjant, and then coming to celebrate Mass."
"I will ask for you to be replaced with a true Christian priest who cares for us," the parishioner railed against the cleric. Fr. Muscat says he was accompanying a vaccine-hesitant Italian friend to the hospital for the jab when the parishioner attacked him.
"I immediately understood that this person was parroting Fr. Joe Borg's prejudices, but since I was very worried for my panicked friend in Valletta, I felt I had to ignore this person and dash to meet him even if that meant mixing with the 'deplorable,'" Fr. Muscat writes in a blog post.
Father Muscat has been repeatedly vilified in the Maltese mainstream media for his uncompromising position upholding Catholic teaching on human sexuality.
Borg's words are "inflammatory and irresponsible" as he "is one of the most visible clerics on the island — both because of his regular presence in the country's media but also part of the bishops' 'magic circle,'" a senior Maltese layman told Church Militant.
Borg chairs the editorial board of the Catholic Church's Beacon Media Group and is editor of Newsbook. He has also drafted the archdiocese of Malta's media policy and is visiting senior lecturer in media and communications at the University of Malta.
In July, Dr. Borg was appointed coordinator of the journalism desk of Signis Europe — an arm of the World Catholic Association for Communication (WCAC).
The layman also commented on the "delicious irony" of "Borg creating a new marginalized and excluded 'Other' comprising of the unvaxxed, while rabidly defending the LGBTQ+ for years and calling for their full inclusion in the Church."
In comments to Church Militant, mental-health ethicist Niall McCrae blasted Borg's "irrational scapegoating" as "itself a danger to society, as it risks lynch mobs, incarceration and worse."
"Most worryingly, this man of the cloth calls anyone doubting the mass-vaccination program as 'a danger to society,'" against whom "the state should act," Dr. McCrae notes, adding:
Father Joe Borg displays the frightening tendency of the religious establishment to throw its weight behind the Great Reset and the greed of Big Pharma. He sees no cause for complaint in the deprivation of basic liberties, forced mask-wearing and the blackmailing of citizens into taking a series of experimental injections.
Stepping up his vilification of the unvaccinated in an August column for the Malta Times, Borg quotes Pope Francis' description of the unvaccinated as "victims of their own imagination."
"And if you think that these words are too harsh a judgment, keep reading on. What follows is harsher!" Borg writes, listing three supposed citations from Pope Francis:
Borg sums up Francis' arguments in his own words: "Anti-vaxxers, with their pitiful and myopic self-awarded status of victimhood, are a manifestation of this hyperinflation."
"Theirs is the reign of inane conspiracy theories and fake news," he rants, stressing "they are, consequently, a danger to society."
"Anti-vaxxers do not only disdain the common good, but they also disparage the truth," Borg concludes, despite a new study demonstrating how people with a doctorate-level education are the most hesitant to take the jab.
The paper, published by researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, found that the most educated people are not only the most skeptical about the shot, they are also the least likely to change their minds about it.
Jewish anthropologist Karen Harradine told Church Militant she was alarmed by rhetoric demonizing a group based on health.
"There can be no comparison to the Shoah, ever," Harradine stresses, "but we must look at the parallels in history to learn from them."
The popular British writer adds:
The Nazis called Jews "Untermenschen" (subhuman) and accused them of being unclean. The use of hateful discourse like this served to dehumanize Jews, the 'Other' in the Nazi mind, making it palatable for ordinary Germans to persecute, torture and murder their fellow citizens.
That similar terminology is being used by Fr. Joe Borg with quotations from Pope Francis to describe those who chose not to get vaccinated is abhorrent, especially evil given that COVID-19 has a low mortality rate and the vaccines are unproven. Why is anti-science dogma being used to demonize the Other, yet again?
Historians record Nazis' health campaigns portraying Jews as vermin, parasites or carriers of diseases who threatened the health of the "German racial community" (Volksgemeinschaft).
German doctors under the Nazi regime frequently argued that Jews spread disease and were especially responsible for outbreaks of typhus.
A 1941 Nazi poster for display in German-occupied Poland carried the slogan: "Jews are lice; they cause typhus." German public health authorities repeatedly urged authorities to isolate Jews further from the rest of the population.
The Nazi propaganda film Der ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) compared Jews to rats that spread disease and contagion throughout nation while devouring its resources.
Earlier, Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told CNN that unvaccinated people are "potential variant factories."
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