Update 2 – Further reactions to the Manifesto “Rebuilding community in Europe” A manifesto for the European Parliament Election 25th May 2019 Promoted by Cana Movement, Catholic Voices Malta and the Commission for Justice and Peace

Further reactions received from Candidates to the MEP elections for the Manifesto: “Rebuilding community in Europe”, a manifesto for the European Parliament Election of the 25th May 2019.  Promoted by Cana Movement, Catholic Voices Malta and the Commission for Justice and Peace.

David Stellini – PN

Having reflected in detail the proposals you put forward, with pleasure I give my support and commitment in favour of the electoral manifesto put forward by the movement of Cana and Catholic Voices. While I believe in the sovereignty of law and respect for each religion, I consider the proposals put forward by this movement as inspired by ethical and moral principles and respect for human dignity, which are the bases of my political beliefs.

The principle of subsidiarity, respect for the underlying environment and the pivotal role of the family in society are three fundamental values that should be at the centre of European action.

The European Union has led to many major achievements for its citizens, however in recent years the EU has somehow deviated from its roots. I believe that the EU should re-look at the principles that emerged after the war and led to a very important and fruitful project: the principle of social cohesion and ensuring that nobody is left behind. It is this European Union that I want to see, and the European Union I will work for if elected.

This is why I am willing to commit myself, that if trusted by the Maltese and Gozitan people, I will see that these twelve principles are always in the background of my work.

Roberta Metsola – PN

Thank you for your email. Please rest assured that I fully endorse the manifesto and will continue to be guided by these overarching values and principles on every decision that I take – as I have done for the last years.

Roselyn Borg Knight – PN

Thank you for sharing this with me.

I have read through your manifesto and I support it. I take this opportunity to thank you for your work.

Robert Micallef – PL  (comment on Newsbook)

I did not receive the manifesto of the Catholic organisations in Malta, however I have just read it now. I declare that I agree with the values mentioned in the manifesto and I will progress these values in my political work.

For the first group of reactions received press here

A number of reactions to the Manifesto “Rebuilding community in Europe” A manifesto for the European Parliament Election 25th May 2019 Promoted by Cana Movement, Catholic Voices Malta and the Commission for Justice and Peace

The Manifesto press here

Rebuilding community in Europe, a manifesto for the European Parliament Election 25th May 2019

Catholic Voices Malta welcomes the arrest of the suspected murders of Lassana Cisse


Catholic Voices Malta welcomes the arrest of the suspected murders of Lassana Cisse

Catholic Voice Malta welcomes the news of the arrest of two soldiers suspected with the murder of Lassana Cisse, an innocent migrant killed in Hal Far in a shooting which also left two other migrants injured last month.

Catholic Voices Malta thank the police force for their work in identifying the perpetrators of this horrible crime.

It is worrisome that the only apparent reason why Lassana was specifically targeted and murdered was the color of his skin. We condemn this racially motivated crime and hope that more is done to develop a culture that in the words of Pope Francis “Welcomes, protects, promotes and integrates migrants and refugees”.

We take the opportunity to remind ourselves of the important speech given by Pope Francis’ for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2018.


Rebuilding community in Europe, a manifesto for the European Parliament Election 25th May 2019

“Rebuilding community in Europe”

A manifesto for the European Parliament Election 25th May 2019


Inspired by the declaration of European Bishops statement “Rebuilding community in Europe”, Cana Movement and Catholic Voices Malta supported by the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Malta propose the following Manifesto of 12 guiding principles that Catholic voters should look for in selecting their preferred candidates for the upcoming European Parliament elections. We also call on all citizens to engage in this important political process and exercise their discernment when voting for the 2019 European elections.

The European Parliament elections are not a local electoral contest but a European one. They should not be perceived as a vote of trust or distrust in a Party in Government or some Party in Opposition. Our vote will be cast for individual candidates, local political parties but also European political groups that will shape Europe’s values, policies and actions.

As citizens we are called to discern the extent to which:
•  the candidates we are voting for,
•  the local political party they will represent, and
•  the European political Group they will form part of
in their manifestos reflect the values and policies that we aspire to see shaping the European Union of tomorrow.

We are also encouraged not to fall into the temptation of inward looking partisanship, or to merely vote for a party without discerning the choice of the candidate. We elect individuals who will represent parties but more importantly, represent us and our values. We therefore encourage voters to exercise their rights and question candidates on these 12 important issues that will define their personal engagement at a European level once elected.
We are also obliged to look at the manifestos of the respective European Parliament Groupings and weigh their choices in line with the values and policies that we would like to see promoted.

Europe needs to rediscover its common identity and be protective of persons, families, and cultures, especially the poor and most vulnerable. We need MEPs that promote the founding values of the EU, committed towards human dignity for all, subsidiarity and active citizen engagement.

Families and demography need to be placed at the centre of mainstream European politics, especially young families. We need MEPs that promote and protect life from conception to its natural end, that address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and foster a culture of integral ecology. We also need MEPs that work towards a renewed effort to find effective and shared solutions concerning migration, asylum, integration and demography.

Dr. Arthur Galea Salamone – Chairman Cana Movement, Tonio Fenech – Coordinator Catholic Voices Malta and Daniel Darmanin – President Commission for Justice and Peace


“Rebuilding community in Europe”
A manifesto for the European Parliament Election 25th May 2019

I embrace the following fundamental principles that will guide my actions and political decisions once elected to the European Parliament.

Human dignity for all

Human dignity is something that cannot be taken away. Each and every person has unconditional value, worthy of great respect and should be free from any form of slavery, manipulation and exploitation. I will promote options and policies that are shaped by the total respect of human dignity.


European institutions should take active steps to favour the personal and collective engagement of all citizens in a true, creative and respectful dialogue and endeavour not to impose unilateral decisions.

Common identity

The EU needs to rediscover its founding values, common identity and value of solidarity, as it seeks to revitalise the social links that exist in and amongst countries and peoples. I will work for an EU that is protective of the families, the most vulnerable and of cultures.

Unity in diversity

Unity in diversity implies common rules that account for legitimate protection and promotion of freedoms and liberties through democratic practices that exemplify accountability, transparency and a just application of the Rule of Law.

Dialogue with Churches and religious communities

In line with Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), I will work towards a more meaningful dialogue with Churches and religious communities.

Young families

Young Europeans need to feel reassured and supported to be in a condition to form a family. Family-friendly rules and practices should be developed at the EU level to accompany the integral human development of persons, families and communities. The well-being of the human family is linked with a Union that fosters a social market economy. The family should be the starting point from which working conditions are designed, to facilitate family time together and create the right balance between family and working life.


Demography needs to regain prominence in EU policy. The decrease of the European births rates need to be addressed through concrete measures to change current trends.

The right of parents to educate their children

I undertake to ensure that the EU provides the appropriate education for our children and youth. In all its programmes the EU should respect and promote the rights of parents to educate their children in conformity with their cultural, moral and religious traditions, in line with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Respecting life from conception to natural end

I pledge to respect the dignity of every human person, at all its stages, from conception to natural death. I will work towards encouraging policies and best practices that provide special care to all children, before and after birth, and to the mothers as well as foster care families and adoptive families. I pledge to oppose any European legislative attempts to impose abortion on any Member State and other countries.

Migration, asylum and integration

I will work toward a renewed effort to find effective and shared solutions concerning migration, asylum, integration and demography. Integration is a matter not only for people entering the EU, but also for EU citizens moving to a country other than their own. While appreciative of security concerns of member states, these should never trample upon the respect of Human Dignity. I will work towards a bold and creative strategy that seeks the right balance between protecting the rights of EU citizens, ensuring demographic viability and cultural sustainability for Europe, whilst ensuring assistance to and acceptance of migrants.

Integral ecology

Environmental and economic challenges are inseparable. The cause of environmental degradation is not population growth but rather extreme consumerism and global social injustice. Environmental degradation effects worst the poorer. As stewards of God’s creation, we commit ourselves to promote actions that place humanity and nature in harmony. I will strive to contribute towards a European policy founded on the preferential option for the poor, solidarity with the more vulnerable, the common good and the intergenerational responsibility for our ecology.

Digitalisation at the service of people

Taking back control of our lives in the face of digitalisation implies decisions to make economy and finance better serve the people, especially the most vulnerable. Digitalisation has an impact on all and everything we know (the future of work, protection of personal data, the multiple uses of artificial intelligence). I will work towards the creation of policies that ensue that new emerging technologies preserve the centrality of the human person and channels these positive developments within a solid ethical framework.

Can Nationalism and Globalisation live together? By Tonio Fenech for Catholic Voices Malta

Flemish nationalists attend a protest against Marrakesh Migration Pact in Brussels, Belgium December 16, 2018. Jacket reads “Right, without complexes”. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

While Theresa May and Westminster continue haggling towards a Brexit outcome, the world is awakening to growing nationalistic sentiments. Easy to brush such sentiments as extreme, however it would be wrong to forget that these are born many times from genuine political disappointments and fears, that mainstream politicians prefer to forget.

The global capitalist economic system that globalisation produced failed many people miserably. Those who saw globalisation as a means towards international economic equity and the eradication of poverty, forget that liberal free market thinkers were never concerned with such ideals.

While the global economic model has been left to evolve at its own accord, into an economic system that Pope Francis described it fruits as “Killing”; the EU sought a different path advancing the values of peace and solidarity, and a more social market model, despite some mistakes.

The global economic system remains globally unchecked despite its grave failings. Its fruits include huge income disparities between countries and societies and the culmination of the global economic crises of 2009 that devastated the lives of millions of people around the world.

The price for liberal economic globalisation was also the globalisation of liberal moral philosophies that watered down national cultural values. Despite popular unhappiness, many saw this as the consequential price to pay for the promised economic wellness. However, the global economic crises left many short changed.

Rising global economic disparities, global warming and regional conflicts are fuelling mass migration. Economic failure and unemployment, the weakening of cultural identity and values, compounded with mass immigration is causing a perfect storm, that may not end well.

Globalisation is not the making of some international organisation lurking in the background trying to create a new world order or a super transnational state as some like to conspire. The historian Yuval Noah Harari in his book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century rightly points out that globalisation is the baby of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

The first world war did not manage to create a new order because it was more of the same at a bigger scale. The history of mankind was built on tribal wars seeking to extend borders and command greater political and economic influence. Hiroshima changed it all. Peoples now feared the war that would effectively annihilate them completely. Hiroshima awakened Governments to the reality that only peace and cooperation would deter global nuclear destruction. Transnational and global institutions were created such as the UN, the EU, NATO, the Warsaw Pact and so on. Meanwhile the US, Russia, China and other less trustworthy countries build their arsenals. Those who cry US, Britain, Malta first, forget that without a strong system of international cooperation nobody escapes nuclear destruction. 75 years from the Second World War, global cooperation, despite its shortcomings managed to avert the third and final global war. We cannot go back.

While nuclear weapons are harmless if they remain locked in an arsenal and level-headed politicians refrain from pushing the self-destruction button, globally we are facing an equally series threat to humanity’s survival, the threat to our ecology. We are all pressing the self-destructive button with our indifferent or denial of the ecological collapse that surrounds us. While the older generation worries about its pensions, the younger generation worries about the environment and what will remain of it.

The enormous quantities of waste and poison we are dumping is changing the composite of soil, contaminating our food, water and our atmosphere. Rivers, lakes and oceans poisoned with plastics and fertilizers used in over farming. We are losing more natural habitats and seeing the extinction of many animals and plants. Despite all the promises, global emissions are still rising; deserts are expanding, forcing migration to northern cooler regions and ice-caps disappearing, making oceans rise, sinking human coastal habitats, also forcing migration.

The world’s addiction to fossil fuels, like all addictions is bring humanity’s destruction. While nuclear war is a potential, ecological destruction is happening. Can any country stop this ecological time bomb alone? Individual, community, national efforts are important, but no country can save the planet alone. Countries need to look beyond national interests. Let’s take global warming; warmer temperatures make hot regions deserts and cold regions more pleasant. From a national interest view point a colder country is not concerned with CO2s emissions as global warming is suiting it. This country however then cannot protest that people in the hotter regions want to migrate to that country when their home is now in a desert. Without a global and transgenerational perspective our selfishness and national interests will breed the global ecological collapse a not so distant future generation may not survive.

Technological disruption is the buzz word of the modern world. Technological disruption can however also become the next human existential threat. If the global community treats technological evolution with the same laissez affair attitude that it treated the global economic evolution, the risks of an AI “being” going for it alone will not be movie fiction for long. While today various countries impose ethical restrictions especially in the biological sphere, like not allowing EU scientists to genetically modify human embryos, who is stopping the likes of China or Japan from doing otherwise. If some development confers an economic or military advantage to the country that makes the discovery others will follow suit, they cannot be left behind. Today disruptive technologies such as AI and bioengineering are moving towards changing the very nature of humanity and possibly creating a new more powerful specie. What we create may not be as benevolent to its human creator as we might wish. This should come to no surprise; we have not been so benevolent to our own Creator. If mankind fails to impose globally accepted ethical standards, Dr Frankenstein is waiting in the shadows.
While remaining proud of our national identities and history, the world needs to transcend former divisions and collaborate genuinely to forge a common destiny. I am not advocating for a super global government. However, the major challenges the world is facing are global and therefore require global solutions.

We need a different model of globalisation, one founded on values, the concept of a family of nations, to harness the global economy into promoting economic equality and social justice, adopting global social cohesion policies that address the challenges of migration through meaningful economic and ecological interventions like create work opportunities for peoples, in their own villages and cities and reversing global warming. We need multilateral structures that avoid pressing the button of nuclear self-destruction and ensure that technological disruption remains at the service of humanity, rather than at its destruction.

Can Nationalism and Globalisation live together? They cannot afford otherwise.

Tonio Fenech is a member of Catholic Voices Malta

This article appeared on the Newsbook Blogg https://www.newsbook.com.mt/blogg/2019/04/29/can-nationalism-and-globalisation-live-together/?lang=en

The Middle Ground – Tonio Fenech for Catholic Voices Malta


Wise Solomon had a very though decision to make when confronted with two women claiming to be the mother of a surviving baby, after one mother lost her newly born at sleep. Solomon sought the middle ground, offering to divide the babies in two, a half each. The mother, terrified of what the middle ground meant offered her son to the lying woman. Solomon recognising the selflessness act of the mother, gave the son back to her.
The call by Dr Andrea Dibben in her article of the 14th April, to explore the middle ground in the abortion debate unfortunately offers no different outcome for the unborn child. Contrary to Dibbens belief, this is not about personal morality, but about the fundamental right to life, that today our laws protect in everyone’s interest.

Urging us to explore abortion from philosophical theories that seek to deny the basic scientific facts that a human is always a human at whatever stage of its development, colour, race, gender, etc., and dehumanising the individual with devastating consequences. Black people enslaved; Jews, ethnic Poles, the Roma, “incurably sick”, gay people and others, exterminated in the Holocaust. Today, societies that deny women legal rights, deeming them lesser legal persons, with husbands granted the right to kill their wives in case of adultery; Brunei just legalised the stoning of gays; the Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient, that was exposed to have deliberately killed perfectly heathy bed ridden patients through hunger, without their consent, for budget cuts; Denmark and Iceland boasting that they are 100% down syndromes free, by aborting all diagnosed down syndrome unborn babies. Need we more illustrations of the effects of philosophical dehumanization, as pro-abortionists seek to do of the unborn child to justify its killing.
Dibbens seems to want a debate exclusively on her terms, i.e. excluding any moral and scientific arguments. This indeed makes any middle ground very difficult to find. If we want to find common solutions these need to share in the interest of supporting the mother and the unborn child.
It is science not religion that tells us that from the moment of conception in the womb lives a distinct human being and not merely a bunch of cells, like a cancer that kills you. It is science that tell us that these cells are not a potential, but the start of a life that if left uninterrupted from human intervention, sickness or accident will live till old age allows it to no longer generate further and die.

We appreciate that a pregnant mother may be facing difficulties due to a pregnancy, but as Pope Francis so bluntly put it “hiring a hitman to resolve a problem”, is no middle ground solution.

This leads me to the second point. A discussion needs to be based on honest facts.

Going through the 30 Q&A infographics that Dibbens describes as facts and arguments that seek to dispel myths on abortion, I found these to be nothing more than a sales pitch based on a mix of unfounded statements, fudges and misrepresentations.

Abortion is a health care issue (myth 1), is certainly not the case for the killed unborn child.

Saying that an unwanted pregnancy damages a woman’s health (14) but then denying (myth 2,13) that aborting the child within you, the most unnatural thing to do, has no mental health implication, is a what? The internet is full of testimonies of women who remained traumatised, anguished and regretted their decision to abort a child.

Selling the idea that because most abortions are done before 8 weeks then they are ok (myth 4); begs the question, if after they are not ok at 9 weeks what makes 8 weeks less human? Science is clear, the zygote, foetus, unborn child is human from second one, from conception, not from 9 weeks.
Myth 7 sells the idea that because the foetus up to 24 weeks feels no pain begs the question since when felling pain makes one deserving to live or to die? So if you give someone a pain killer then you can kill him or her?
Myth 8 is an outright deception that keeps being used by pro-abortionists like the Trojan horse. The infographic claims that an abortion done to protect the mother’s life is a crime. False. Maltese Health protocols are clear, if the mother’s life is at risk, a doctor is obliged to save the mother’s life even if the consequence is the loss of the child. We simply do not call this an abortion but a miscarriage.

The article does not allow me space to go into all infographics, but this is the sort of misinformation we are starting to be feed.

Dibbens also misreads as overwhelmingly positive feedback the reach of 180,000 people through this Facebook campaign. Facebook reach is not a sign of overwhelming support, many people reached do not even read the post it merely scrolls in front of them. When I entered the Page verify response the Page had 1,046 Likes at the time of writing, a response rate of less than 0.6% of the Facebook reach, not overwhelming at all.

Thank you Mr. President for the firm message of defence of life you have sent in your inaugural speech. Kudos to the Maltese Government who this month, at the United Nations 52nd Session of the Commission for Population and Development, reaffirmed Malta’s clear and unequivocal position against the interpretation of abortion as a sexual and reproductive health service, stating clearly “the right to heath does not include the right to abortion as this goes against the right to life, which is paramount”.

What we need today is a renewed effort to continue nourishing this beautiful culture of respecting life, agreeing here with the Prime Minister that it needs to include all life, even that of migrants at sea.

Let us discuss the support systems that pregnant mothers in difficulty need, how to create situations where mothers that cannot take responsibility for their child, are assisted to either for so or help them transition the child toward adoption or foster care, in the most discreet and respectful manner. These are the middle ground solutions that together we should work around, solutions that do not pit the mother against the child, or place the unborn child under the knife.

This article was published by the Malta Independent on the 18th April 2019



‘Low unemployment does not mean adequate wages’ – Malta Independent interview with Tonio Fenech for Catholic Voices Malta

by Kevin Schembri Orland for Malta Independent , Monday, 4 March 2019,

Former Finance Minister Tonio Fenech has issued a warning about Malta’s current economic boom, highlighting that the economy needs better management as while the country registers positive economic growth, a number of negative impacts are also visible and growing.

Recently Fenech, through the group Catholic Voices Malta, highlighted certain concerns about the Maltese economy. Responding to news reports regarding the importation of workers from Turkey to work on construction projects, Fenech asked: “Why are we over-building our country in the name of economic growth and job creation. We are building mega high quality projects as though all the rich people in the world will come to live in Malta, while causing shortages in the housing market that caters for lower to medium income families and first time buyers making prices unaffordable – and the jobs created for whom? Foreign workers paid €800 per month?”

Talking to The Malta Independent on Sunday, Fenech questioned what the impact of Malta’s current economic reality is, which, while having positives such as economic growth, is also having negative impacts.

“Unfortunately, in my opinion, what we are seeing today is an economy growing from sectors which, in themselves, over-expose the country to other pressures. Development was always a component in the country’s economic development. However, injecting a significant pipeline of large projects into the economy which in itself creates economic growth – as construction alone creates such growth – one needs to question what impact this will leave on the economy at large. In order to sustain the economic growth we are seeing in terms of construction, we are simply increasing significant pressure on the need to import labour. We are solving the problem of building all these projects by importing labour which is evidently being brought in at very cheap rates.”

He said that when importing cheap labour to sustain economic growth, in terms of the theory of supply and demand, if supply is meeting demand at a low price, then these low wage levels become the benchmark for the rest of the economy. He said that Maltese workers who aspired to have a better a wage while working in the construction sector are having their ambitions frustrated, “as they will be told they are not needed as workers paid €800 a month could be brought in from abroad to carry out the same work”.

He said that many question why they do not see Maltese working in jobs like construction or in the restaurant industry. “The only reason is that this demand is being satisfied by cheap labour imported from abroad, and the Maltese, aspiring for a better quality of life would most likely be paid even lower than they used to be in those same jobs.”

So in reality, who is benefiting from this economic growth? The country’s economic strategy should have Maltese families as its core focus; in reality, it is not benefiting Maltese workers, but only benefiting the major companies undertaking these major projects, he said.

A second major impact in relation to this reality is the housing required to support imported labour, he said.

“This is a complex situation as we have these mega projects being constructed, not for the average income families, but for foreigners able to purchase or rent at substantially high prices in five-star locations.”

He said that most people coming to Malta for work look to live in more reasonable priced housing. He said he is not just referring to construction workers, but also the much higher paid sectors like the online gaming industry. “We’ve even seen comments from companies in the online gaming sector that the rents are becoming so high that employees they try to bring to Malta are finding it unaffordable. Now everyone knows that the online gaming industry pays good wages. So if these people being paid good wages cannot the rent prices in Malta, what about the families who do not work in the gaming sector?”

“Does this mean we are xenophobic and that we don’t want foreigners? No it doesn’t, any economy needs an element of foreign workers, but when one looks at how an economy evolves, and if the primary purpose is the wellbeing of Maltese families, then we should not take economic measures which overheat the economy and create social problems to families . An economy requires pacing.”

“We are not seeing the pacing of projects and it seems that the authorities have decided to give blanket approvals to massive projects, all coming up at the same time, which in itself is overheating the situation,” he argued.
Asked whether, theoretically, Maltese would go for more well-paid jobs, he said he hopes they will be able to find such jobs, but the rates of say early school leavers is still an issue. “The unemployment rate is low but this does not mean that the level of wages workers are paid is adequate. Unfortunately, with the pricy rise in the property market, people with an average wage are finding it difficult to buy. Even rents are very high. When you talk about paying €1,000 a month for a decent apartment… how many people earn €20,000 to €24,000 a year? There are also many people buying property to rent, and this is also creating an artificial demand. People think that as many foreign workers are coming to Malta, they purchase a property, fix it up and rent it. But this is only sustainable as long as more and more foreign workers continue to come to the islands.” He questioned whether the country’s infrastructure could handle this, and highlighted the environmental impacts such a situation could create.

“At the moment we are attracting a lot of business in the online gaming industry, in blockchain and Fintech, which is all well and good, but they are very volatile industries.”

Asked what could be done in order to minimise the issues he mentioned and the negative impact of the current economic boom, he said there are measures which can be taken, like pacing the projects approval process.
He said that, in terms of the number of foreign workers, the government needs to study the situation in order to ensure that this policy is not having a counter negative impact on housing markets, unreasonable low wage pressures and rights.

“The Prime Minister had said that we need this in order to sustain pensions, but I question this argument as the current party in government, when they were in Opposition, used to say there was no pension issue. So why is this argument being thrown at us as the reason to accept this economic strategy?”

If one looks at what other countries did when it came to importing labour, they were more restrictive, he said. “First of all we have opened our doors to anyone in the world when we are already in the EU. Obviously, contractors would prefer to bring in workers from outside the EU as wages would be lower. If you leave it in the hands of developers and the business community, they will go for the cheapest option as their motivation is, obviously, to maximise profits. That is why we need a government that will balance the drive for profits with other social aspects that meet our economy.
“In reality, with the present economic growth rates wages should also be increasing more meaningfully, because theoretically increased wage demands are met. This is not happening because in terms of cheap labour the sky seems to be the limit, so the demand and supply is distorted. You cannot have an income policy giving a €1 increase per week increase over three years beyond the COLA.”

The benefits of the economy need to be shared and the pressures managed. Even in terms of the number and size of projects we approve each year, they need to be seen in the context of the wider impact on society, Fenech explains. “This is also in the interest of all the developers as at some point supply and demand will kick in, and, if the demand for such apartments does not meet a situation of over-supply, there could be a significant impact. Are we making the mistakes of the countries that crashed before us?”

If you overheat an economy, you could create income disparities and inflation which does not match wage increases, meaning that people effectively become poorer, and that is a problem the property situation is creating, he said. “Who is addressing the issues of medium-income families who cannot afford purchasing their own home? We need affordable housing for people who used to, traditionally, afford such housing. Home ownership needs to remain at the centre of public policy”


Press Release: Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency, making the Church the safe place it should be

20th February 2019

Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency – making the Church the safe place it should be

The “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting of Bishops, which will take place in the Vatican, between 21 and 24 February 2019.

Faced with widespread and growing discomfort with revelations of very serious cases of sexual abuse involving members of the clergy, Pope Francis has called a 3-day meeting in the Vatican for Bishops that starts tomorrow the 21st February, 2019. The meeting will discuss the ‘The Protection of Minors in the Church’. The Pope has summoned the highest representatives of the Catholic Church from around the world to give a united response at the universal level. The entire Church must choose to live in solidarity, above all with the victims, with their families and with the ecclesial communities wounded by the scandals. As the Pope has written, ‘If one member suffers, all the members suffer together’. (1 Cor 12:26).

The Church is seeking to send a clear message of its commitment to protect minors, and that this has to be done in a clear and effective manner by the entire community, starting with those in the highest positions of responsibility. More recently, other forms of abuse are coming to light, but all are rooted in the same culture of secrecy, abuse of conscience and abuse of power that are the cancer of clericalism that Pope Francis condemned in his Letter to the People of God issued in August 2018. In it he stated categorically: “to say ‘no’ to abuse is to say an emphatic ‘no’ to clericalism.” Pope Francis has concretely shown his zero tolerance for abuse by even those in the highest ranks within the Church, most recently by defrocking the ex-Cardinal McCarrick.

Indeed, the theme of the meeting starting tomorrow: ‘Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency’ indicates that the main purpose of the meeting is not to create new procedures, but to undertake a fundamental reform of the quality of leadership in the Church through an internal conversion. In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray for the meeting which he described as “a powerful gesture of pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time.”

The three days of discussion will be devoted to a specific topic: “Responsibility, Accountability, and Transparency”. The 190 participants present in the Vatican Synod Hall will hear three reports a day, three of these by women, and all nine interventions will be followed by a question and answer session. Members of the Organizing Committee will also meet privately with representatives of the victims and survivors’ associations. There will be testimonies from survivors and moments of prayer, at the beginning and end of each day. Pope Francis will open the Meeting with an introductory speech on Thursday morning, and close it on Sunday with a discourse after Mass. A Penitential Liturgy will take place on Saturday afternoon, and will be broadcast live.

Catholic Voices Malta joins Catholic Voices International and indeed, the Universal Church and all people of good will in praying for Pope Francis, our Archbishop Scicluna who is in the team leading the meeting, and all the participating Bishops. This great moment of trail for the Church can be a turning point for its purification.

Information on the Meeting
The official website of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” Meeting is www.pbc2019.org and will remain active even after the Meeting is over, as a “tool for developing future initiatives”.

For any questions, information or follow up you can also contact info@catholicvoices.mt

The Letter to the People of God by Pope Francis can be found: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2018/documents/papa-francesco_20180820_lettera-popolo-didio.html

Reality check for low Sunday Mass attendance. Newsbook Blogg Tonio Fenech

During the past two weeks much has been written about the phenomena of low Sunday mass attendance, what this implies, and possibly who’s to blame. The Humanitarian Association was quick to claim victory for secularism and asserting that Malta is no longer a Catholic country.

While the actions of those who live the Catholic faith are more important that the numbers that go to Church, a proper look at the figures shows a reality quite different of what has been portrayed in general.

The Maltese Archdiocese for the first time, commissioned a Survey to accompany the Census. Some were confused by this and questioned the need. I thought it was well thought. The Census listened to the people coming to Church, the survey sought to listen to the people not coming to Church, equally or possible more important to understand.

The survey carried out by Misco in fact makes some interesting reading. 95% believe in God, something good, showing people still have an openness to the spiritual reality. 92% believe they are Catholic, 7% do not follow any religion while 1% adhere to some other religion. If 95% claim to believe in God, then out of the 7% that do not follow any religion, 1/3 still believe in God, i.e. only 5% of the Maltese population is either atheist or agnostic.

Interestingly these results are not very far from a survey carried out by Malta Today around March 2018, that also found that 93.9% of the Maltese population identified themselves as Catholics. The survey then had also found that 88.8% were against the removal from the Constitution of Catholicism as Malta’s official religion and an even stronger majority was against the removal of the crucifix from public buildings such as schools.

Focusing again on the more recent Misco survey, 93% claim that religion is important to them (66% claiming very important), even if simple maths tells us that not all of these attend mass every Sunday with some actually not attending at all.

Evidently the Maltese Church needs some sole searching to understand why so many believe in God, feel Catholic, see their faith as something important, but do not find Sunday mass as relevant in their journey of faith.

Most Catholics find themselves somewhere in between two extremes. Those who for them Sunday mass observance is the start and end of what it means to be a Catholic, just like ticking the box, or having a membership card, to the other extreme, where I noted many online individual comments to these stories seem to come from, that to be a good Catholic one does not have to go to Church. Only 37% state that one must follow a religion if one believes in God, which possibly explains why the census found that only around 40% attended Sunday Mass on census day.

The survey on the other hand also found that 74% actually go to mass at least once a month, with 50% of the respondents claiming to have attended mass the previous Sunday. Here we find a discrepancy between the census and the survey. The census counted 40% while the survey measured 50%. The survey analysis seeks to explain this by making a mention that there is an element of social desirability bias, i.e. people reply what is expected from them as “good” behaviour. While this may be so, there may be a different reason like people who in a month go to Sunday mass more frequency then once, but not necessarily every Sunday, feel justified to place themselves in the category of regular Church goers rather than occasional.

I also found it very strange that despite all that has been reported, officially by the Church, journalists and various commentators, one important figure seems to have been overlooked. 75% of the respondents claimed to pray daily, 44% of these actually claiming to pray several times a day. This is real hope for our nation.

Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium starts his Apostolic Exhortation with a fundamental invitation to encounter Jesus in prayer, when he states “I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since “no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord”. The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms.

Professor Mark Anthony Falzon, an anthropologist, in his observations to the Malta Independent of the 3rd February 2019 enforces the understanding that what we are seeing is no necessarily a decline in religious belief but rather a transformation. I quote, “A caveat is in order here, because while that for Sunday Mass attendance is a relatively straightforward statistic which measures practice (you either go or don’t), that for belief in God is an infinitely more complicated one.” In fact, Professor Falzon claims that we are not looking at a decline in religious belief, but rather a change in what people do with their beliefs – a change in religious practice.

This transformation is understandable within a society which is becoming more individualistic, self-sufficient and too busy, losing touch with the beauty of being family, community and shifting towards social media friends, followers and likes.

So why are people not attending? 20% because they do not agree with what the Church or what the priest say, 12% laziness, 12% lack of time, 10% they see Mass not relevant and 10% simply do not they like going to Church.

Indeed 80% have nothing against the Church by are simply not motivated, they are waiting for the Church to give them a reason to go beyond mere rules of observance. They are looking for meaning, a reason to go, in day which like air above the surface of the water, they struggled to reach after a week drowned in the busyness of work, family life, commitments and whatever, and the last thing they want to go to is a place where they sit, detached from those around them, listening to a ritual of prayers and a homily which they struggle or are to sleepy to follow after a Saturday late night (or early morning for some).

Interestingly in the case of the 16 to 24-years age group, there is even more hope and room for outreach then society wants to make us believe.

Disagreement with the Church or the priest is far less significant at 5%, and the real reason is lack of time at 27% and laziness at 22%, if only as parents they find some sort of encouragement, and in the Church provides them the attention, friendships, fun and answers they look for. This should be what mass is all about after all, a meaningful community of friends, in celebration mode, sharing and expressing a joy that comes from understanding what Jesus did and what Jesus still does for us.

I close with the words of Pope Francis in the more recent Apostolic Exhortation Gaudate et Exsultate, where he says, “Far from being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the saints are joyful and full of good humour. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit. The Christian life is “joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17), for “the necessary result of the love of charity is joy; since every lover rejoices at being united to the beloved… the effect of charity is joy”. Having received the beautiful gift of God’s word, we embrace it “in much affliction, with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess 1:6). If we allow the Lord to draw us out of our shell and change our lives, then we can do as Saint Paul tells us: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

This is what mass should be all about. Then people will come.

Tonio Fenech is a member of Catholic Voices Malta

This article appeared on Tonio Fenech’s Blogg on Newsbook on the 6th February 2019 https://www.newsbook.com.mt/blogg/2019/02/06/reality-check-for-low-sunday-mass-attendance/?lang=en