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Archbishop of Malta ordained
|Authority to build not to destroy - Archbishop Cremona|
“Please God that my ministry be one of reconciliation in word and deed, and my preaching not in the persuasion of human wisdom but in showing that the spirit and strength and authority that has been bestowed upon me by the Church will not be used for my personal glory and used not to demolish but to build up.”
Making his first official speech as Archbishop the newly ordained archbishop, Mgr Paul Cremona OP said that he wanted to use the thoughts of his spiritual mentor, Blessed Pope John XXIII when he made his spiritual retreat before he was ordained bishop in 1925. It was only natural that Malta’s new spiritual leader would take his cue from the saintly pope who inspired him as a novice 45 years ago and about whom he wrote his doctoral thesis – The Concept of Peace in John XXIII.
Earlier on in his speech, Mgr Cremona showed how he interpreted the teaching of the Gospel as where it says that we are all created in God’s image. This means for the new Catholic pastor of Malta that there can be no discrimination in his Church and in Maltese society based on religion, colour or gender. Our mission he said is to preach the good news to all those who are looking for Christ so that they may find him through the testimony we give by the way we live. Echoing Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, sometimes called His “electoral programme”, Mgr Cremona said that we also have a duty to help those whose suffering we can alleviate by our communal Christian love. Amongst these he mentioned the poor, the abandoned, those in jail and the sick.
This speech was the highlight of a rather long but pleasant ordination ceremony in which Mgr Cremona received the laying of hands, was anointed with the Holy Oil and received his Episcopal insignia, namely the crosier, the mitre and the ring. Respectively symbols of his duty to tend the flock of the faithful, his commitment to search for holiness and his fidelity to the church of Christ.
Apart from the ordaining bishops that is Mgr Mercieca, Mgr George Frendo OP and Mgr Felix del Blanco Prieto, there were another nine bishops who attended. These were Mgr Walter Ebejer OP, Mgr Annetto Depasqaule, Mgr Mario Grech, Mgr Emmanuel Gerada, Mgr Paolo Giglio, Mgr Francis Adeodato Micallef, Mgr Francis Baldacchino OFM Cap, Mgr Silvester Carmel Magro OFM and Mgr Giovanni Martinelli, the bishop of Tripoli. Along with these an estimated 500 priests took part in the concelebration.
Despite the cloudy sky the people came in their thousands to witness and be part of the ceremony during which the erstwhile Dominican friar, Fr Paul Cremona OP, SThL & D, was ordained bishop and installed as archbishop of the metropolitan archdiocese of Malta.
St John’s Co-Cathedral was packed to capacity, as were the tents erected in front of the historic church and Palace square. Thousands of people lined the streets of Valletta, particularly Republic and Merchants’ Street to get a good glimpse of their new spiritual leader as he made his way to this impressive and rich ceremony in an open topped limousine. The two Valletta bands, Kings’ Own and La Valette were on hand to make merry and add to the festive atmosphere.
The ceremony began early at 4.30 p.m. when the archbishop-elect entered the Basilica and Principal Matrix parish church of Our Lady of Safe Havens and St Dominic at the lower end of Merchants’ Street. There he first signed a parchment inserted into the page of the Dickensian ledger which recorded his birth and baptism in this same place exactly 61 years ago. Then he went to pray before the holy sacrament after which the sung vespers began. At the end, the Domincan friars filed into the aisle where they sang the Salve Regina and the hymn to St Dominic O Lumen, after which they led their brother to his waiting car and his new life away from the bounds of the conventual life he has lived with them since joining the Order of Preachers way back in September, 1962.
Malta's new Archbishop, Mgr Paul Cremona, said yesterday he faced his "great mission" with fear but was confident that God would see him through.
In a consecration Mass that lasted more than three hours at St John's Co-Cathedral, in Valletta, 61-year-old Mgr Cremona officially took possession of the title he was nominated for two months ago.
But if this was supposed to be a solemn ceremony, somebody forgot to read the script; as hugs, handshakes and spontaneous outbursts of applause mirrored the feeling of overwhelming joy that greeted him as he entered the capital.
Archbishop Mgr Joseph Mercieca, the lead consecrating bishop - along with Apostolic Nuncio Mgr Felix de Blanco Prieto and long-time friend Bishop Mgr George Frendo - had already passed a poignant impromptu remark about how unusual it was for an Archbishop's parents to be present for his consecration. Mgr Cremona's mother drove the point home when only reluctantly she let her son walk back to the altar after his family had presented the offerings.
His parents' involvement continued right till the end when, in a moving moment, Mgr Cremona lifted his father out of a wheelchair so they could stand side by side for a photo; clutching the crosier he had just made nine solemn promises to obtain in one hand, and 91-year-old Joseph even more tightly in the other.
But during a short speech towards the end of the ceremony Mgr Cremona made it clear he was reaching out to a much wider family - all the Maltese.
And he did it yesterday by borrowing a few things from Pope John XIII; first a tunic and then a few words: "I didn't look for or wish for this ministry; the Lord chose me... it is up to him to make good for my shortcomings and my limitations... I feel I lack strength and am not capable, which is another reason to remain humble; very, very humble. I want to dedicate my whole self totally to God, filled with his light, and his love for human souls... God willing my ministry will be one of reconciliation in words and deeds".
But he had a message of his own too: "We profess we believe there's God's image in every person... We need to continue to profess that this image is equally present in each man and woman; in those that are estranged from God and perhaps seem like they are getting in the way of the Church's work; those whose beliefs are different to ours; those whose skin colour and nationality is not the same and yet perhaps find themselves living among us because they had to escape from their home country; babies that are in their mothers' wombs, the elderly who are sick and perhaps abandoned... We need to see God in everyone, whoever he may be".
Mgr Cremona also had words of praise for Mgr Mercieca, whom he described as a close collaborator, and received some timely advice from the man that occupied the hot seat for more than 30 years: "Without doubt, you need a lot of courage to take on the ministry of a diocesan bishop today. Among other things, this life demands a lot of sacrifices and presents many difficulties. It can also tire you out, and you can feel alone and downhearted. But don't be afraid! God, who has called you to carry this responsibility, will always be with you."
A nation was with him too yesterday. From the 470 priests inside the church, to the 900 patiently seated outside the parvis, to the thousands watching at home on their television screens, as he went through the formalities of accepting the role.
The evening began with the reading out of an official proclamation by the Pope, followed by the formal interrogation by the lead consecrator, before the new Archbishop lay prostrate on a red carpet in front of the altar as a sign of his submissiveness before God. As the minutes wore on, each of the 11 bishops present laid their hands on his head and then, just a few minutes before 8 p.m., Mgr Mercieca anointed Mgr Cremona with the oil that officially made him the new Archbishop.
And it was then he received the tools to carry out the task - the ring, which symbolises the nuptial bond with the Church; the mitre, signifying his resolve to pursue holiness; and the pastoral staff or crosier, symbolising a shepherd's crook. He was then led to the bishop's seat of his cathedral church at which point the congregation inside the church stood to applaud, and he allowed himself a broad smile.
With Mgr Mercieca now standing aside, in more ways than one, Mgr Cremona continued the Mass himself after being relegated to a seat on the wings in the early stages. He walked up the aisle arm in arm with Gozo Bishop Mgr Mario Grech when he delivered his first blessing to everyone in the church, and those opposite the parvis, as church bells peeled frantically outside.
And he made an appeal to his new flock: "I urge each and every one of you to help me," he said, "through your prayers and through your work."
Now that the festivities are over, Malta’s new Shepherd must come to terms with declining Church attendance, increasing secularism, and growing demands for “taboo” subjects such as divorce. Archbishop Paul Cremona on the challenges facing his diocese in the 21st century. By James Debono
During his “honeymoon” as Malta’s new Archbishop, the soft-spoken Mgr Paul Cremona, has presided over a wave of religious enthusiasm accompanying the canonisation of St Gorg Preca.
Coming amidst growing signs of secularisation reflected in declining Church attendances and a plurality of family forms, this wave of religious enthusiasm took many by surprise. Newspaper columnists have contrasted the fervour of devotion for the new saint with an increased dose of xenophobia and racism greeting boatloads of illegal immigrants.
Reading the signs of the times, the new Archbishop accepts that the Church is one voice among many in a pluralistic society. But he insists that the Church has a duty to take a stand and make its views known on the issues affecting the life of the people.
Surely the new charismatic Archbishop is aware that Maltese Catholics are demanding a different style of leadership from their new Shepherd. Asked on the legacy of his predecessors, Mgr Cremona replies:
“I have always believed the Lord bestows every individual with a particular character, way of thinking and style. The positive thing about change is that one can continue on the footsteps of a predecessor while emphasising things which were previously not given sufficient importance.”
He sees this as part of the natural course of things.
“I hope that my successor will emphasise those aspects which were not given enough importance by me, so that we complement each other.”
The canonisation of St Gorg Preca was a momentous event in the life of many Maltese Catholics. But is there a risk that the memory of the real saint is obscured by a fixation on miracles and an atmosphere typical of a village festa?
Mgr Cremona makes it clear that first and foremost, the new Maltese saint shou ld be remembered for his mission.
“We made it very clear that St Gorg Preca should be remembered for two important things. First of all because he left a living monument – the MUSEUM society which helps so many young people. Secondly, we must know who St Gorg Preca really was. We should remember him for his humility and as a person who had something within him which moved people.”
Asked whether too much an emphasis was made over miracles, the Archbishop replies that since the Church believes that God actively intervenes in history through divine acts, there is nothing wrong in commemorating the saint’s miracles.
“For the Church, the holiness of a person must be confirmed by a miracle. Miracles are a confirmation of what one believes in. But one should not exaggerate.”
Mgr Cremona reflects on the paradox of an increasingly secularised society where many people still yearn for manifestation of the sacred.
“In everyone’ s heart there is a yearning for the divine. People tend to forget God until they need Him. When one has his back against the wall, one asks is there someone above? In the USA, many turned to God after 9-11. So why not turn to God in one’s ordinary life?”
In the past months, there have also been colourful reports of apparitions of Our Lady in Borg in-Nadur.
“In these cases, the Church cannot exclude completely the possibility of divine intervention. But the Church has a responsibility to be prudent and is obliged to keep a distance from these manifestations. It is easy for people looking for manifestations of the divine to be deceived. We have to protect the faith of these persons too.”
The Archbishop is also worried by those whose commitment to religion stops at attending mass and church celebrations.
“Religiosity is the outside expression of an inner faith. The inner faith should be based on Christ’s gospel, which is reflected in the way one looks at him or herself and in the way one looks at others, and looks at material goods, money, suffering and other people. Our challenge is to reconcile the two aspects of Catholicism.”
Surely a category which fails to reconcile religiosity with the message of the gospels are those who express racist sentiments.
“For the Christian, love is an act of faith. Jesus told us that everyone is created in God’s image. Skin colour does not count. No Christian can show disrespect to anyone because of his skin colour or religion.”
But in Malta one also finds movements who denounce that the influx of foreign people in Malta as a threat to its Catholic identity. Is the Archbishop concerned?
“I am used to this sort of thing. Unfortunately, instead of taking the Church’s teaching in their totality, some pick and choose. It happens on other issues like the environment or abortion. Some people applaud the Church when it suits them and call on the Church not to interfere when they don’t like what it says. On the issue of racism we are clear, that one should not be prejudiced against anyone.”
The Archbishop makes a clear distinction between policies regulating immigration which should be decided by politicians and the Church’s message against racism and prejudice.
“This is not a question of the Church saying that Malta should accept a million people. This is a political question which should be decided with Christian love but which should be ultimately determined by Maltese society and not by the Church. This reflection must be done by the people. But this reflection should not be based on fear but on concrete realities.”
But when it comes to political voices promoting discrimination, the Archbishop is categorical.
“Political expression cannot ever be based on any form of discrimination. We must clearly denounce any political message based promoting racial discrimination. But of course we cannot interfere when it comes to state policies on immigration.”
The Archbishop has also expressed regret that the European Union has yet to translate its expression of solidarity with Malta into concrete facts by offering its assistance to help the small island deal with the exodus of illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean in search of a better life.
“We have sent our appeal to European Bishops. We asked them to pass our message to their governments.”
One of the areas in Maltese life where secularisation is leaving an impact is family life, with different forms of families claiming recognition and where marital separations are increasing.
The new Archbishop does not ignore this reality although he points out that a majority of Maltese families are based on stable marriages. But Mgr Cremona surprised many when he declared that the state should recognise the rights and obligations of persons who live together without being married. Mgr Cremona insists that he was simply reiterating what his predecessors had said a decade ago. He also makes a clear distinction between recognising cohabiting couples – something which is unacceptable for the Church – and recognising the rights and obligations of the individuals forming these couples, which is acceptable.
He also insists that a clear distinction must remain between the rights enjoyed by married couples and those enjoyed by cohabiting persons.
“We still insist that it would not be good for society to recognise cohabiting couples. But we also said that the persons who form these couples should be protected from exploitation and from being abandoned by their partner.”
Mgr Cremona insists that these rights and obligations should alsoa be extended to persons who live together even if their relationship is not of a sexual nature.
He refers to cases of mothers living with their daughters and brothers or sisters who live together. “We simply said that the state should protect the rights and obligations of these persons.”
Should homosexuals who live together enjoy the same protection accorded to other persons who live together?
“It does not matter whether they are homosexuals or not, because they are first and foremost persons. Any person living with another person, whatever the reason why he cohabits with someone else, should be protected from exploitation or from being abandoned.”
With exception of Malta and the Philippines, divorce is part of the legal code of every country in the world. Is the new Archbishop concerned that divorce will be introduced during his episcopate?
Mgr Cremona points out that being an exception in the world does not necessarily mean that Malta is any worse than other countries.
“Some think it’s negative but one can say that this is positive. There are many countries which have abortion. So should we say that abortion is good or should we be proud that we do not have abortion?”
But why compare abortion and divorce?
“I am simply saying that this is not a matter of following the majority of other countries. One should look at the value of what we are seeking to protect.”
He also insists that divorce is not available in Malta because the majority of people still cherishes family values.
“This is not just because of the Church, but because the majority of people think so.”
While acknowledging that the family is facing mounting problems he insists none of these problems would be solved that by introducing divorce.
“One should look on what happened in countries where divorce was introduced.”
Some claim that divorce decreases the number of single parent families. Did the number of single parent families decrease in the United Kingdom after the introduction of divorce? Instead of proposing divorce, would it not be better to help young couples cope with problems? asks Mgr Cremona.
The Archbishop speaks of the need for family-friendly policies.
“The Church has already spoken on relieving the pressures on families like the price of property.”
He also endorses the Church’s Justice and Peace Commission’s proposal that banks should freeze the mortgage payments for workers who lose their jobs.
He also proposes a national campaign of public service announcements aimed at promoting more stable families.
“How many campaigns are being conducted to give married couples tips on how to live a happy married life? Would it not be a good idea if in the middle of a film, a small advert asks: did you tell your husband that you love him? Did you tell your wife that you love her? Did you hug your children today? We had a campaign on seat belts. Should we not do a similar campaign in favour of the stability of the family?”
In the absence of divorce, many couples are resorting to annulment. The Archbishop explains that Church annulments proceedings are stricter than those of the state, because proceedings in the Church’s tribunal do not simply involve the two parties but also a defender of the bond whose task is to defend the marriage.
“Marriage is not simply based on the will of two persons. There is a marriage contract which should be defended. I cannot speak about what happens in State courts. But everyone should give a value to marriage independently of the momentary wishes of the persons involved.”
Despite his firm opposition to divorce Archbishop Cremona is not in the mood for crusades. If a political party declares in its manifesto that if elected in government it will introduce divorce, what will be his reaction?
“The Church has a position on divorce irrespective of any party’s electoral manifesto. Obviously whatever happens, the Church will keep saying that divorce is not a solution to Malta’s problems. We cannot change our position because a particular party proposes divorce. But it’s not the time for crusades. We are living a pluralistic society where the Church presents its views to society. The Church must remind Christians to reflect on its values.”
Over the years the Church took a number of political stands on the family, the environment, property prices and various issues. But how can one draw a line between Politics with a capital “P”, and involvement in partisan politics?
The Archbishop refers to “Deus Caritas Est”, an encyclical issued by Pope Benedict XVI. “The Church has the duty to make its views known. What the Lord teaches is good for society. Politics means the implementation of one’s beliefs in the organisation of society.”
Mgr Cremona thinks that the Church should be actively engaged in politics at this level. He also sees more room for consensus politics.
“It would be positive that, on certain issues like the environment and drugs, a consensus can be reached. I was satisfied that all parties were united in their call on Europe to assist Malta on immigration. In this way nobody is allowed to make political capital on national issues.”
But he insists that the Church should keep a distance from partisan politics.
“There is another side of politics which is partisan politics. There is nothing wrong with this. It is a system through which persons who emphasise different ideas struggle for power.”
Yet over the years priests have crossed the fine line between partisan politics and politics at a more abstract level. Recently, the eminent philosopher and theologian Father Peter Serracino Inglott acknowledged his participation in a strategy meeting of the Nationalist Party. Has he crossed the lines?
Mgr Cremona recommends that clergymen should refrain from directly participating in such meetings. “The reflection of the universal church is that the Church should belong to all. If I identify myself with a particular party, the other side will immediately identify me with the strategy of the other party. We have to be very prudent.”
Mgr Cremona insists that he is not referring only to priests siding with one particular party.
“This applies to participation in any political party. I believe that one should not declare himself in favour of one party so that one is able to pass the Church’s message to all parties. Priests should be free from any attachment.”
The Archbishop did not raise specifically this issue with Fr Peter Serracino Inglott.
“I talk to him on a personal level on many things and not on this issue in particular.”
The environment is one of those political issues where the Church through its commission has taken a stand. In the case of the Ramla l-Hamra Development, the commission expressed disagreement with the boycott issued by MEPA chairman Andrew Calleja against Astrid Vella and Flimkien Ghal Ambjent Ahjar.
But the Archbishop refuses to take a stand on the Ramla l-Hamra development.
“Personally I do not like to enter the merits of each particular case. We can make reflections. For us Christians, the environment is a gift of God which should be used and not abused for profit. If this is a gift of God, one should protect it. It is also a gift which should be passed on to future generations. According to our moral theology, stealing from future generations is also a sin.”
Pope Benedict XVI made it clear that the Catholic Church must take all necessary steps to prevent further occurrences of child sex abuse by clergy.
In Malta, the Church has its own response team to investigate child abuse.
Should not the Church pass information of child abuse committed by its members to the police?
“When someone takes his case to the response team he is immediately told that this does not in any way preclude taking the case to the police. But we cannot force a victim who confidentially came to us to report the case to the police. This cannot be done because the police would be obliged to interrogate the victim. The response team investigates whether the accusations on the person being investigated are merely suspicions or whether they substantiate abuse. In this case its my responsibility as Bishop to ensure that the abuse is not repeated in the future. But the victim is always free to go to the police.”
But if the allegations are substantiated and the Church knows that a crime has occurred, is it not obliged to report the abuser to the police?
“It should be the victim which should make a decision of his/her free will to go to the police.”
While emphasising the social role of the Church, the Archbishop’s ultimate aim is a spiritual awakening which is also reflected in the country’s social and political life.
“The greatest legacy I would like to leave is that more people know the Lord. Knowing the Lord has a direct impact on people’s life and society in general. I think that this is the aim of everyone occupying a leadership post in the Church, whether a parish priest, a priest leading a group, a bishop or a Pope.”
Patri.Pawl Cremona O.P., teologu Dumnikan, twieled fil-belt Valletta fil-25 ta' Jannar ta' l-1946, minn Joseph u Josephine nee Cauchi. Għandu żewġ ħutu oħra; ħuħ ikbar minnu u oħtu iżgħar minnu.
Studja l-Filosofija u t-Teoloġija fil-Kulleġġ ta’ San Tumas ta’ Akwinu fil-kunvent tad-Dumnikani tar-Rabat u ġie ordnat saċerdot nhar it-22 ta’ Marzu 1969.
Hu studja l-filosofija u t-teoloġija fil-Kulleġġ ta' Tumas ta' Aquino fir-Rabat, mnejn ħa d-dottorat fit-Teoloġija Morali fl-1973 fl-Universita' Pontifiċja ta' San Tumas ta' Aquino f'Ruma.
Hu studja t-teoloġija Morali fl-Universita' Pontifiċja ta' San Tumas ta' Aquino f'Ruma, fejn kiseb id-Dottorat fl-1973 bit-teżi 'The Concept of Peace in Pope John XXIII.' Sa l-1973 hu kien jgħallem it-teoloġija morali fil-Kulleġġ ta' San Tumas ta' Aquino.
Fil-Provinċja Dumnikana Cremona serva bħala Provinċjal bejn l-1981 u l-1989. Hu kien kappillan tal-Parroċċa tal-Madonna ta' Fatima fi Gwardamanġa bejn l-1989 u l-1993. Bejn l-1993 u l-1997 kien responsabbli mill-Formazzjoni tan-Novizzi u l-Istudenti dumnikani fir-Rabat – uffiċċju li reġa’ kellu għal żmien ieħor qasir bejn l-2004 u l- 2005. Fl-2005, Patri Pawl Cremona ġie maħtur bħala Kappillan tal-Parroċċa ta’Ġesu’ Nazzarenu, f’Tas-Sliema.
Patri Pawl serva wkoll bħala President tal-Konferenza tas-Superjuri Maġġuri bejn l-1984 u l-1987, kien President tal-Kunsill tal-Formaturi tal-Ħajja Reliġjuża bejn l-1993 u l-1995 u kien ukoll delegat ta' l-Arċisqof għall-Ħajja Konsagrata sa mill-1995.
Fl-1994 ingħata l-medalja Pro Ecclesia et Pontefice. Patri Pawl Cremona ppubblikat t-teżi tiegħu The Concept of Peace in Pope John XXIII fl-1988 u l-ktieb L-Abort - Ħajja jew Mewt, fl-1978.
Riċentement ippubblika wkoll il-ktieb Il-Knisja Ikona tat-Trinita Qaddisa kif ukoll, flimkien ma' Patri Ġorġ Frendo, Isqof ieħor Dumnikan, tliet kotba fuq it-temi tat-tliet snin ta' tħejjijia għas-sena 2000 u dwar l-Ewkaristija fis-sena 2000.
"Għalikom jien Isqof, magħkom jien nisrani. Aħna lkoll midinbin, ejja nimxu mixja spiritwali flimkien". Dan kien l-ewwel messaġġ ta' kuraġġ lill-poplu Malti li ta l-Arċisqof Pawl Cremona ftit minuti wara li kien ippreżentat min-Nunzju Appostoliku għal Malta Felix del Blanco Prieto lill-Kunsill Presbiterali.
Fid-diskors tiegħu, Patri Cremona irringrazzja lill-Mons.Guseppi Mercieca għax-xogħol siewi li għamel kif ukoll lin-Nunzju Appostoliku għal Malta. Hu qal li aktar milli se jkun l-Arċisqof ta' Malta, hu se jkun nisrani bħalna. Hu wiegħed li se jagħti l-impenn kollu tiegħu f'din il-kariga bil-limitazzjonijiet kollha tiegħu. Patri Cremona appella lill-kulħadd sabiex jitlob għalih biex iwettaq u jaqdi l-kariga l-ġdida tiegħu bl-aħjar mod. Hu qal li matul il-kariga, huwa se jaħdem biex iservi ta' medjatur biex iressaq in-nies aktar viċin ta' xulxin u jkun aktar viċin tal-poplu nisrani.
Wara d-diskors tiegħu, l-Arċisqof Pawl Cremona talab li jkollu laqgħa mal-ġurnalisti fejn fiha spjega l-ħsibijiet tiegħu dwar din il-kariga u rrisponda d-domandi kollha tagħhom.
Dan li gej huwa r-rapport kif deher fil-maltastar.com
Malta once again in
|"For you I am a Bishop but with you I am a Christian" - Fr Paul Cremona|
Fr Paul Cremona, the 60-year old Valletta-born Dominican priest was on Saturday announced as the new bishop-elect of the Archdiocese of Malta, the 11th Maltese Archbishop.
“Pope John Paul II was received [in Malta] with unforgettable enthusiasm as ‘the second [Saint] Paul’. Today as per mandate of Pope Benedict XVI the diocese is being entrusted to another Paul,” Apostolic Nuncio Felix del Blanco Priete announced to a crowd of journalists and the Presbyterian council meeting at the Curia in Floriana.
Taking centre stage in a very humble way, confused and emotional, the new Archbishop invoked Bishop Saint Augustine: “For you I am a Bishop but with you I am a Christian.”
Ordination on his birthday?
The ordination of Fr Cremona as Archbishop of Malta is expected to be in January, after the festive period closes. A date is already being mentioned. The 25 January 2007, his birthday.
Earlier in the morning the news was already spreading in the streets of Valletta, especially at the Parish church of St Domenic.
Fr Cremona was born, and lived just round the corner from St Domenic’s church, in a modest area of the City down at the end of Republic Street. Flags were hoisted on the rooftops of Valletta houses, in the morning, even before an official announcement was made.
‘I need a lot of prayers’
As he arrived at his parents’ home, around 9.45 am on Saturday Fr Cremona, beaming in his grey shirt and trousers, neighbours gathered around him while he was continuously repeating “pray for me, I need a lot of prayers.”
The new Archbishop revealed his fears before taking over such a delicate seat at the helm of the Maltese Diocese.
”I received the news that I was the Pope’s choice for Bishop last Tuesday, and since then I barely slept for a few hours. The only thing that gave me the courage to accept was the mission, even though I was terrified when thinking of the difficulties the post brings with it. But you understand that my responsibility is to God. I am not answerable to a human being. And that scares me,” confessed Fr Cremona.
‘I want to be with you’
Speaking to the press after his annunciation, the new Archbishop outlined his initial vision of the Church in Malta which he will be heading.
“The Church needs to remain open, we are all sinners but we need to walk the path together. I want continuous dialogue, I want to be with each and every one of you, close to you” Fr Cremona said.
In his own words, his greatest value is that he can build the bridges. “We need to build the bridges that are needed to bring back the people who left the church.”
Commenting on the poor Sunday mass attendance, he said that this hurts, but at the same time we need to see what qualities the people are looking for in the church. “This is a personal experience for each and every person - we need the people to feel an intimate relationship with Christ.”
He admits that the idea of him being the Archbishop has not sunk in yet and that he needs a few days to form a clearer opinion. “I will take it day by day because everyday is a new experience and what I believe is right at the moment might change after a particular experience,” he said.
|Blessed John XXIII's alb for Archishop Cremona|
Archbishop-elect, Mgr Paul Cremona’s life long devotion and admiration for the pope of his childhood, Blessed John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli), has led to him being informed that he will be presented with the late pope’s alb for his Episcopal ordination later this month. maltastar.com is informed that the alb will then be kept at the Cathedral museum in Mdina.
A Franciscan's idea
The idea of having a memento of the man known as “Il Papa buono”, the good Pope, is the brainchild of Franciscan friar, Fr Anton Farrugia OFM. Fr Farrugia, who is a liturgy specialist, is currently posted at the Franciscan convent and church of Sacre Couer in Sliema, apart from assisting in the Maltese Curia’s Commission for the liturgy. Fr Farrugia is also a personal friend of Archbishop Loris Capovilla who is presently the Pontificial Prelate for the shrine of Our Lady of Loreto in Italy and, more importantly, was the private secretary of the Blessed John XXIII.
Fr Farrugia wrote to Mgr Capovilla, now 91 years old, after the announcement that Fr Paul Cremona had been nominated to succeed Mgr Mercieca as archbishop of Malta and informed him of the new archbishop’s devotion and admiration for the late Papa Roncalli, so much so that Fr Cremona’s doctoral thesis was entitled The Concept of Peace in Pope John XXIII.
A personal gift
After this, Bishop Capovilla contacted Fr Farrugia and told him that he had decided to present Mgr Cremona with an alb, the white vestment priests dress when celebrating mass, which the Blessed Pope John XXIII used to wear when he was known Angelo, Cardinal, Archbishop Roncalli, Patriarch of Venice. Archbishop Capovilla said that the alb had been given to him by the late pope himself but that he would gladly let the new Maltese archbishop have it seeing how devoted he is to John XXIII. It was agreed that Bishop Capovilla would send the alb to the Roman convent of the Franciscan Friars Minor where Fr Farrugia would be attending a seminar this week and he would then bring it over to Malta with him to present to Mgr Cremona.
maltastar.com is informed that it was Fr Farrugia who informed the Archbishop-Elect of the news. We are also informed that Fr Cremona was overjoyed and visibly moved with the news and that he insists that, if he does not wear it during his ordination, it should be put somewhere prominent in St John’s Co-Cathedral because the archbishop elect regards the alb of the late pope as a holy relic.
Il-Laqgha maz-Zghazagh f'Paceville u San Giljan
Artiklu minn The Times
Ritratti Hajr William Camilleri
Had he still been a teenager he would probably spend the weekend with friends in Paceville, Archbishop-elect Mgr Paul Cremona told youngsters gathered at St Julians parish church on Saturday.
This statement was acclaimed with loud cheers of support by the hundreds of youngsters gathered in the church. "Pawlu! Pawlu! Pawlu!" they frequently called out. He did not mind; on the contrary, he played along.
His comment on Paceville, was in response to a question by one of those present for a "dialogue with youth", which followed a packed programme of music, presentations and entertainment at the church in St Julians.
"My youth was a happy time, but there wasn't much to do really. We used to go to Valletta's Upper Barrakka or stroll up and down Strada Rjali (Republic Street)," he reminisced. "Guess what time we had to be in," he asked. "Eight o'clock and if we didn't it was trouble... They were different times."
The occasion was a tour de force he made in the heart of Malta's entertainment industry in an evident bid to open a dialogue with youth.
He first visited Paceville, followed by a programme at the St Julians parish church and then back again to Paceville, on foot, accompanied by a loyal flock of people, youngsters and clergy, who turned up for the event.
Speaking of his calling as a priest, he said he felt something very early on but he could not explain it. "For instance, I never had a steady girlfriend. You know you would have sympathies but it's as though I felt that my calling was for a different path. Frankly, I cannot really explain it. It's like when you ask someone who is about to get married why her or him, for instance, and they can't explain."
Besides issues pertaining to the Church, such Holy Mass and the possibility of making it more lively, the youngsters present asked about social issues including how the Church could reconcile its philosophy in respect to the poor with its material riches but also regarding the price of property.
On the first issue, he said that while he believed the Church could not do away with the riches of its churches as this was heritage, it should and could have the courage to say no to people who are willing to add more to what there already is. He even recounted how he once refused a man's offer to have a new gold ornament installed in the parish church he was attached to.
As for the social commitment, Mgr Cremona spoke of the several Church organisations that already provide a range of services to a host of people.
On the question of property prices, he referred to the recent pronouncements made by a Church commission and went on to warn young couples wanting to buy property to be moderate in their material expectations.
His earlier trip to Paceville was rather amusing and probably tiring for Mgr Cremona as a frenzied hype developed, fuelled by a rather strong police presence and a crew of security personnel who at times acted as though there was an effective threat to the Archbishop.
Paceville was of course not exactly what it usually is, what with his presence there, and that of members of the clergy, youngsters and curious onlookers.
Cameramen and photographers had to work their way through in order to get some good shots of Mgr Cremona, particularly when he conceded to have a go at a boxing video game. He took it all in his stride, smiling and shaking people's hands, even if it was an evidently tiring experience.
Towards the end of this first leg, in fact, he entered a restaurant where he took a seat. He even accepted some food from Corleone.
The most amusing part, however, came when Mgr Cremona and the crowd accompanying him descended on the centre of Paceville, baffling quite a few of those who were oblivious to the fact that the Archbishop was scheduled to visit the entertainment mecca on the night.
Il-Laqgha mat-tfal fit-Tinda Ta' Qali 21.01.07
Archbishop-elect Mgr Paul Cremona was quite obedient when he was young but he too did things his parents were not too happy about.
"My parents used to be worried each time I returned home sporting a bump on my head and they were even more worried when I had one and did not tell them about it. Once I worried them to death when I went to play football and did not tell them where I was going," he told children assembled at the Malta Fairs and Convention Centre, in Ta' Qali.
His message to children was however loud and clear: "Try to obey your parents as much as possible, and when you do something wrong, say you're sorry".
He also urged parents to pray with their children.
Mgr Cremona even went as far as giving children some homework. He told children to ask their parents to say a prayer with them before going to sleep.
The Convention Centre was already packed at 9.30 a.m. and people kept pouring in. The event was evidently a greater success than anticipated as children and adults spilled from the seated areas to sit or stand on the stairs and in passageways and corridors as well as around the central area which had been earmarked to be left for dances, mime and other performances.
The only empty seat was one in the middle of a front row, clearly marked reserved as it was intended for Mgr Cremona. But one woman saw the vacant seat from the other end of the hall and made a bee-line for it, only to be told whom it was intended for just as she was preparing to sit down.
It got so hot inside that the emergency doors on one side were opened to let air in.
There was frantic waving of red, white and yellow scarves, which organisers gave to children and some even brought posters with messages congratulating Mgr Cremona.
The priest with an affectionate, contagious smile, who turns 61 on Thursday, kicked footballs with a group of young players from the Valletta nursery, and said he supported Valletta as a team, which comment received both cheers and boos.
He told children to love animals and to treat them well. Mgr Cremona said he enjoyed being close to people and that's exactly what he intended to keep doing as an Archbishop.
The organisers had a tough time trying to persuade people not to try and get too close to Mgr Cremona as many wanted to shake hands with him or take photos of their children with him.
In the evening, Mgr Cremona officiated an engagement usually reserved for bishops when he administered confirmation to a group of children at the St Lawrence parish church, in Vittoriosa.
Archbishop Mgr Joseph Mercieca gave Mgr Cremona the faculty to administer confirmation.
F’messagg qasir li sar minn wiehed mis-subien li ghamel il-Grizma, f’isem it-tfal kollha rringrazzja lill-Arcisqof il-gdid u qal li minkejja li ghadhom ma jafuhx, huma se jirrispettawh u jhobbuh, u dan anke talli ghamilhom membri kbar fil-familja ta’ Kristu. It-tifel talab lil Monsinjur Cremona biex jitlob ghat-tfal kif jixtieq Gesù fil-waqt li t-tfal se jitolbu ghalih biex jaghmel ix-xoghol li Gesù halla f’idejh.
Fl-omelija tieghu, Mons. Cremona tkellem dwar l-importanza li t-tfal idahhlu lill-Ispirtu s-Santu fil-hajja taghhom.
Huwa qalilhom li l-Madonna kellha bzonn din il-prezenza meta kienet se ssir omm u ahna rridu nimxu wara l-passi taghha. Qal li anke l-Appostli kellhom bzonn lill-Ispirtu s-Santu biex jghinhom ixandru l-bxara tal-Mulej.
Hekk ahna wkoll, zied jghid Monsinjur Pawlu Cremona, ghandna bzonn lill-Ispirtu s-Santu f’hajjitna biex jaghtina l-qawwa nirrezistu kull tfixkil. Huwa appella lill-genituri tat-tfal u l-parrini taghhom biex ikomplu jghinu lil uliedhom jifhmu xi tfisser tkun Nisrani, u ghalhekk heggeg lit-tfal biex ma jieqfux jattendu l-lezzjonijiet tal-katekezi wara li jaghmlu l-Grizma ta’ l-Isqof.
L-Arcisqof fi triqtu lejn l-Imdina ghall-Velja ta' Talb
artiklu minn maltastar.com
|Bishop Cremona tours Malta|
The Archbishop-Elect, Mgr Paul Cremona, made a whistle-stop tour through some of the Maltese towns on his way to the Mdina Cathedral, his official see, where he was set to participate in a prayer vigil on the eve of his ordination.
Wearing his bishop’s vestments for the first time, Mgr Cremona left his Sliema Convent at precisely 4.30 p.m. after greeting the other Dominican friars at the convent. These included the Prior Fr Gigi Sapiano , Rev. Dr Charles Tabone, Fr Gabriel Ciantar, Fr Marius Zerafa, Fr Dominic Scerri, Fr Lino Frendo, Fr Angelicus Vella and Fr Joseph Cilia amongst others.
As he stepped outside the Jesus of Nazareth Church, Archbishop Cremona was greeted by a huge crowd of well wishers who tried to get as close as possible to shake his hand. He then got onto an open top black Austin Princess to start on his way to Mdina. On the way he stopped at Ta’ Xbiex, Msida, G’Mangia / Pieta`, Hamrun (Immaculate Conception), Hamrun (St Cajetan), St Venera, Fleur de Lys, Attard and Rabat.
At the Saqqajja Square in Rabat, Mgr Cremona was also greeted by the two Rabat bands, Count Roger and L’ Isle Adam which played the Papal anthem and then escorted him to the main gate of Malta’s ancient city. There Mgr Cremona was greeted by the mayor and then made his way through the narrow winding street to the Cathedral Square where he was welcomed by the hundreds of people who packed the tent erected in front of the Cathedral before entering the imposing baroque church where the Vigil proper was to take place.
The vigil was led by the Nuncio, the Vatican’s ambassador to Malta, Mgr Felix del Blanco Prieto who first gave the Archbishop –Elect the oath of allegiance to the Church and the Statement of the Faith. After various readings and reflections by members of the clergy the bishop’s insignia were blessed. These are the ring (presented by his fellow Dominicans) which symbolises his fidelity to the Church, the mitre (presented by his parishioners) which symbolises his quest for holiness, and the crosier (presented by the Seminary) which symbolises his pastoral role. These insignia were blessed by the outgoing archbishop, Mgr Joseph Mercieca.
At the end of the vigil Mgr Cremona also imparted the benediction with the Eucharist after which he made a short address thanking all those present.
minn The Times:
To call Mgr Cremona the pied piper of the Church would be a gross understatement going by the rallying welcome he was accorded on his route to Mdina yesterday.
The people's hopes and aspirations seemed to shine brightly in their eyes as the new pastor's energy and enthusiasm matched those of the crowds making yesterday another triumphant day for the new Archbishop.
Dominican Mgr Paul Cremona, who turned 61 yesterday, will be consecrated Malta's new Archbishop at St John's Co-Cathedral, in Valletta, this evening.
The smiling priest who shot into the hearts of the faithful and, one dare say, even those who may no longer be, once again experienced the warmth of the people yesterday as he was driven in a Rolls Royce from Sliema to Mdina for a prayer vigil stopping in nine localities en route.
Perhaps the most nostalgic moment for the charismatic prelate came about when he visited Fatima parish, in Guardamangia, where he had served as parish priest for several years.
People in the localities he was driven through wished him a happy birthday and in Guardamangia a group of people also displayed a banner with the same message. In Attard he was also presented with a birthday cake.
"He is a man of God and very approachable", one Guardamangia parishioner said.
When Mgr Cremona was presented with a gift by Pietà mayor Santo Attard, he removed the wrapping and took out the silver tray from the box to show it to the people in appreciation.
Mgr Cremona stood at the back of the open Rolls Royce as people ran up to the car to greet him and give him flowers.
"Thank you, thank you," he kept saying as he cautioned the people to be careful of the car's wheels.
The ride, which started from the Gesu Nazzarenu parish, in Sliema, where, since 2005, he served as parish priest, ended in Mdina where he attended a prayer vigil. Mgr Cremona's car was escorted by policemen on motorcycles.
Mgr Cremona's carcade passed through the parishes of Gzira, Ta' Xbiex, Msida, Guardamangia, the two parishes in Hamrun (Immaculate Conception and St Cajetan), Sta Venera, Fleur-de-Lys, Attard and Rabat.
On reaching Mdina he was met by the mayor, Peter Sant Manduca, at the gate.
At Cathedral Square, he was greeted with applause by the people waiting to follow the prayer vigil from under a purposely mounted tent outside the cathedral.
The Archbishop-elect blessed and waved to the crowd before entering the cathedral where he shook hands with and spoke to children all the way through the aisle to the altar. His smile never faded.
Half way up, Mgr Cremona was greeted by outgoing Archbishop Mgr Joseph Mercieca who accompanied him on a personal prayer visit to a side chapel before the vigil started.
The vigil included several Bible readings by a number of people, including Bridgette Micallef, who read Braille, and Rim, a 10-year-old Sudanese girl.
Readings were followed by reflections by several priests.
During the vigil, Mgr Cremona took his oath of loyalty to the Church and made an expression of faith.
Mgr Mercieca blessed Mgr Cremona's insigna - his ring, mitre and crozier.
The vigil came to an end with a sacramental blessing and a message from Mgr Cremona.
He thanked the people for joining him in prayer and said that when the Apostolic Nuncio broke the news that he was the chosen one, his initial thought was about the work this would entail.
But the Lord showed him that more important than the work was the enormous grace of the fulfillment of the sacrament being bestowed on him.
Mgr Cremona said he was amazed at God's enormous love for the people and at choosing him to lead the faithful towards the fulfillment of their mission to spread the love of God.
Jesus, he said, had chosen Peter to lead the first Christian community. No one had expected Peter to be the chosen one but the Lord could see what the people could not.
He appealed to the congregation that packed the church to pray for him continuously.
"You, who have children at home, pray together for me this evening.
"If you are a married couple who do not usually pray together, pray for me tonight. And as you are praying, why pray just for me, pray to the Lord everyday," he said.
"As you pray for the Holy Spirit to descend unto me, also pray for it to come unto you so that together we will build the Church," Mgr Cremona said.
He was given a standing ovation.
Mgr Cremona then walked down the aisle greeting people and went out to meet and speak to those who were under the tent.
Mgr Paul Cremona has been calm in the run-up to today's consecration ceremony, according to his long-time friend Bishop George Frendo, and is privileged to have been received so positively by the public.
"That's a very promising start; though, of course, he still has to face the real problems. He will be a bishop not just for the people, but one that's close to the people. And he will do his very best to draw back those who feel estranged from the Church," the Auxiliary Bishop of Tirana-Durres, in Albania, told The Times.
Gozo Bishop Mgr Mario Grech believes that Mgr Cremona's background in a religious order will have a bearing on Christian life in Malta.
"It is an advantage, because religious life comprises the essence of the Gospel. There's the attachment with Christ and also the community life aspect, which is considered as the fourth element of religious life along with poverty, chastity and obedience.
"I consider Mgr Cremona as an existential parable which helps us to discover the true meaning of discipleship. He's a profound human and a very deep spiritual person."
Thousands are expected to gather today in Valletta, Mgr Cremona's hometown, to wish the Archbishop well as he makes his way to St John's Co-Cathedral, where the Episcopal ordination ceremony will begin at 6.30 p.m.
A number of children in Church schools have even been given the day off to mark the occasion.
Mgr Cremona will leave his parish in Sliema at 4 p.m. before arriving at the Dominican church, in Valletta, for prayer around 25 minutes later. At 5 p.m. he will be driven through Merchants Street at a snail's pace to City Gate accompanied by the Kings Own Band. At 5.30 p.m., he will be taken into Valletta and down Republic Street, accompanied this time by the La Vallette Band.
At 6 p.m. he will be met by the monsignors of St John's and go on foot to the co-cathedral for the ceremony, which is scheduled to last about two-and-a-half hours. Admission to the church, as well as the square opposite, where large screens will be mounted to relay the ceremony, is only open to ticket holders, due to severe space restrictions.
Three bishops carry out an episcopal consecration. The lead consecrator this evening will be Archbishop Mgr Joseph Mercieca, together with Apostolic Nuncio Mgr Felix de Blanco Prieto and Mgr Frendo.
Proceedings get underway after the proclamation of the Gospel, when the Archbishop-elect is presented for ordination by the presbyters assisting him. One of them will say: "Most Reverend Father, the Church of Malta asks you to ordain this Dominican priest, Paul Cremona, to the office of the episcopate". The Papal letter of appointment is then read and the entire assembly gives its consent to it by saying "Thanks be to God".
Mgr Cremona will then be required to make nine solemn promises, which include discharging the office till death and seeking out stray sheep, before he lies on the floor prostrate while the congregation sings the litany.
Following that is the most significant part of the ceremony - the laying on of hands by all the bishops present, which is the point at which the Holy Spirit is believed to be conferred. The principal ordaining bishop, Mgr Mercieca, will then lay the Book of the Gospels on Mgr Cremona's head until the prayer of consecration is completed.
The new Archbishop's head will be anointed, before he is presented with the Book of Gospels, the ring which symbolises the nuptial bond with the Church, the mitre signifying his resolve to pursue holiness, and pastoral staff or crosier, which symbolises a shepherd's crook. Mgr Cremona will then be led to the bishop's seat of his cathedral church and receive the kiss of peace from Mgr Mercieca.
However, he will not receive the pallium - a circular band of white woollen cloth worn around the shoulders, which is a symbol of the metropolitan bishop's authority in communion with the Church of Rome - until June 29 during a special ceremony led by the Pope in Rome.
Mgr Cremona has described his appointment as "a new venture", and initially approached it with a sense of trepidation: "I was afraid of what it was going to entail, but then I thought to myself that I was given a parish before this. Now instead of having a parish, with the same obedience, with the same availability, I will have a diocese - which externally is something greater, bigger and more responsibility. But internally it's the same giving. I can give to the diocese what I gave to the parish. Probably more, though obviously with the help of many other people."
The 61-year-old Archbishop entered the Dominican order at the age of 17 in 1962. He studied philosophy and theology at the College of St Thomas Aquinas at the Dominican priory in Rabat, and was ordained priest on March 22, 1969.
He obtained a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome, with a thesis on The Concept Of Peace In Pope John XXIII. Between 1974 and 1980, he was prior at the convent of our Lady of the Grotto, in Rabat. He was re-elected to the same office in 1997 and again served two terms up to 2003.
In 1981, he was chosen Provincial of the Maltese Dominican Province, an office he held for two four-year terms. He then became the parish priest at the Fatima Sanctuary, in Guardamangia, and was responsible for the formation of Dominican novices and students at Rabat. In 2005, he became parish priest at the Jesus of Nazareth parish, in Sliema. He has also been the Archbishop's delegate for consecrated life, assistant spiritual director at the Seminary, a member of the Presbyterial Council, and president of the Council of Maltese Religious Major Superiors (KSMR).
Mgr Cremona is the author of several books and has also been a regular preacher at Lenten sermons, as well as being sought regularly by a great number of religious and laymen, particularly married couples, for spiritual direction. This is one thing he will miss once he steps into his new role: "I've had a lot of people who have been coming to me - some of them could be couples or people in religious life - for 20 or 30 years and this appointment means I can't be as available as I was. For instance, some people are saying 'could we continue', and I have to say 'now it's different, I can't'. That hurts and hurts a lot, when you build up that sort of spiritual relationship with people," Mgr Cremona said.
• To discharge until death the office received from the apostles and transmitted to the ordained by the laying on of hands.
• To preach the gospel with constancy and faithfulness.
• To guard the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the apostles and kept by the Church everywhere and at all times.
• To build up the body of Christ, the Church, and to remain united with it within the order of bishops under the authority of the successor of St Peter.
• Of obedience to the successor of apostle Peter.
• To guide and sustain the people of God on the way of salvation as a devoted father with the help of priests and deacons.
• To be welcoming and merciful to the poor, strangers, and all those who are in need.
• To seek out the sheep who stray and to gather them into the fold of the Lord.
• To pray ceaselessly for the people of God and to carry out the office of high priest without reproach.
Archbishop visits prison to 'instil hope'
The Corradino Correctional Facility yesterday welcomed Archbishop Mgr Paul Cremona who augured his visit would result in hope and Christian consolation.
The Archbishop's Curia said the inmates had the opportunity to speak to Mgr Cremona individually during his three-hour long visit.
They were also presented - by the organisation Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl - with a postcard of the Archbishop signed with a personalised autograph saying You Are Made In The Image Of God. No One Can Change This.
Following the visit, the Archbishop said his ambition was to instil hope in the inmates and he was happy if he managed to infuse even a shred of this.
He promised to pray for everyone, including the families of the inmates.
The Archbishop said that during the visit he met people within whom there was a spark the Lord had to reach. This moment should be for them a time to close their past chapters.
There are 398 inmates in prison - 298 Maltese, including 16 women, and 100 foreigners.
Help expand the Church, Archbishop tells elderly
Saying he felt really comfortable being an elderly person among the elderly, the Archbishop, 61, asked the congregation to pray for him, to find solace in God if they were sick and to offer some of their energy to help expand the Church if they were healthy.
On his arrival at the church, fireworks were let off and the Archbishop found hundreds of people, some carrying their grandchildren, welcoming him. They forgot their ailments for a while and rushed to touch him and kiss his hand before he even had time to get out of the car.
The church was packed to capacity and some of the elderly were even sitting on the floor in front of the altar.
The congregation included residents of Church, government and private residential homes, the Caritas social clubs, day centres and others who still lived on their own.
Mgr Cremona said during the homily that Pope John XXIII had, on reaching the age of 60, started to reflect on the end of his life and eternity. Little did he guess at the time that he would be elected Pope when he was 78 and spend five years doing a lot of good for the Church.
He called on the elderly who were suffering to remember that although Christ chose to die at a young age he also suffered. Jesus, he said, expressed fear in the Garden of Gethsemane when he asked the Lord to remove his suffering if that were possible. His last words on the cross, however, was that He entrusted His soul to the Lord.
The elderly who, on the other hand, were healthy and felt they had a lot to give but did not know what to do, should follow the example of Our Lady who was given the task to look after the Church following the death of Jesus.
"You should offer your energy to expand the Church... for your mission in the family, which is now more or less over, to be transformed in a mission to the Church."
Humbly, he asked the elderly to pray for him.
"Young people sometimes say they have no time to do so, I hope you do not make the same excuse," he said jokingly. Following Mass, the elderly were reluctant to leave, hoping to get another opportunity to get closer to the Archbishop they have learned to love in such a short time. But, for a while, he seemed to have disappeared.
People gathered around his car to be sure they would not miss seeing him again as he was about to leave. He surprised those who had assembled there by appearing on a balcony overlooking the front of the Church. He waved to the people who applauded throughout the few minutes he spent up there.
Although there were some who chose to leave, having kept the mini-van drivers waiting for them long enough, others opted to stay on and wait until it was time for the Archbishop to depart.
minn The Times
Archbishop takes a walk in the park
Archbishop Mgr Paul Cremona yesterday urged Catholics to act as a beacon for others and show them how good it is to live as a practising Christian.
Speaking to people who filled the Malta Fans and Convention Centre, in Ta' Qali, which for the second time in as many days was packed to capacity, albeit for different reasons, Mgr Cremona said lay people had a big role to play by living Christian values. Saying how good it felt would make others want to follow suit.
Sporting a smile that has become the trademark of the new Archbishop, Mgr Cremona waived enthusiastically to the crowd who chanted "Pawlu, Pawlu" and waiving red, white and yellow scarves as he appeared on stage.
Julie Zahra, one of the singers who entertained the crowd, told the Archbishop she felt his charisma would attract a lot of youths to the Church. Talent included Claudette Pace, Ludwig Galea and the police band, under the leadership of Inspector Anthony Cassar. A band and choir made up of members of the Charismatic movement were also in attendance.
The Archbishop was welcomed by footballer Carmel Busuttil, his wife Julie and their two children. The footballer asked the bishop to "Bless us with your smile".
Before making his way into the convention centre, Mgr Cremona surprised picnickers when he went around and started speaking to people who were having their Sunday afternoon outing at Ta' Qali.
It was evident that those who went to the convention centre were there not much for the spectacle but to hear what the new pastor had to say. In fact, no sooner had the session where he fielded questions from the floor ended that people started trickling out, even though they were constantly reminded there would be "a surprise" at the end.
The surprise was a visit by Olivia Lewis, who interpreted her winning song, which she will be representing Malta at the Eurovision Song Festival (see back page).
Asked how one could answer the question that priests are not qualified to talk about marriage because they did not experience it, Mgr Cremona said that when he worked with the Cana Movement he had learnt so much about marriage that he thought he'd be good at it were he to get married.
"I can say I am married to many couples with whom I walked in times of difficulty. Those who are speaking about divorce do not realise what marriage is. In marriage, you don't get someone, but you give yourself to someone," he said.
Mgr Cremona said the Church was 2,000 years old and its teachings had stood the test of time, unlike many other forces that rose and waned.
"The Romans had similar thinking about marriage as we are hearing these days and had Jesus wanted to alter the Church's beliefs about marriage, he would have done it then," he said.
Mgr Cremona said we were living in times when it is easy to get alienated and he urged people "to make space for Jesus in their lives".
Police Inspector Cassar gave Mgr Cremona a silver crucifix on behalf of the police corps. The Archbishop thanked the police, whom he said he had kept very busy over the past days.
L-Arcisqof jiltaqa’ mal-familji f’Ta’ Qali:
Consecrated in Albania on September 23, 2006
"For many days before I couldn't sleep. I was excited and concerned at the same time, hoping that everything would go well. But on that day I was very calm and stayed that way throughout the celebration. I was deeply moved for many reasons. I was remembering my parents, both of whom are dead, and also my brother, Fr John, who died in Albania in my presence. But I enjoyed every single moment of it since it's a deep spiritual experience that's very difficult to explain.
"Being ordained bishop is a gift that none of us is worthy of. And being a bishop is the fullness of priesthood.
People in the diocese look upon you as their shepherd, and that places great responsibility on your shoulders."
Consecrated in Gozo on January 22, 2006
"I was very calm. Although it was an extraordinary day, I lived it in a very ordinary manner. That might sound strange, but that's how it was. Spiritually, it was a very intense moment, but everything happened in an ordinary manner. The most memorable moment for me was during the laying of hands because at that point the consecrating bishop has nothing to say; he just lays his hands. But it's a very, very important moment because that's the actual consecration. As days go by, I am still discovering the spiritual meaning and apostolic responsibility that was handed on to me by the Holy Spirit through the Church.
"My ministry as a bishop gave me the opportunity to go into my priesthood in depth. And I am very happy about that."
Consecrated in Malta on September 29, 1974
"On the day of my Episcopal ordination I prayed to the Good Lord to always be my guide in the exercise of my ministry."
Consecrated in Gozo on April 9, 1967
"I was very afraid the day I was consecrated bishop. They used to ask certain questions in Latin that frighten the life out of you, such as whether you're prepared to promise that you will defend the Church in the face of grave danger. It's not because the questions were in Latin, but there was a certain awe and fear about their content.
"Becoming a bishop is something I had always thought was a little far from me perhaps. I always asked God to put me in a place where I could do some good; whether it was a priest, a deacon, or a patriarch. The important thing is that I was not impeded and able to do spiritual good to others. That was my only desire.
"Sometimes in my time as bishop, I said to myself that perhaps I might have been able to do more good as a priest."
Is-Sibt, 2 ta’ Dicembru li ghadda, kien jum indimentikabbli. Kmieni hafna filghodu, bil-kemm kemm ghadu sebah, waslitilna l-ahbar ta’ l-ghazla ta’ wiehed minn hutna d-Dumnikani, Patri Pawl Cremona, bhala arcisqof ta’ Malta. L-ewwel kelma li ghedt jien kienet “Hallelujah!” Nghidha llum ukoll u jalla jkolli ghalfejn nibqa’ nghidha tul l-episkopat kollu ta’ Patri Pawl.
L-ghazla ta’ arcisqof gdid ghal Malta mhijiex xi haga ta’ kuljum. Minnha nnifisha, l-ahbar hi specjali, ghallanqas ghal xi whud. Fl-ahhar mitejn sena kellna tlieta biss; u b’din issa saru erba’. Kellna ta’ Mauro Caruana fl-1915; ta’ Mikiel Gonzi 28 sena wara, fl-1943; u 33 sena wara, kellna ta’ Guzeppi Mercieca fl-1976. Issa, wara 30 sena, kellna ta’ Pawlu Cremona.
Dawn l-arcisqfijiet ta’ Malta kollha ntghazlu mis-Santa Sede, jigifieri minn Ruma. Infatti, Mauro Caruana kien l-ewwel arcisqof ta’ Malta li ntghazel b’dan il-mod. Sa l-arcisqof ta’ qablu, jigifieri Pietru Pace, l-ghazla kienet issir mill-Kapitlu tal-Katidral ta’ l-Imdina. Imma wara l-mewt ta’ Pace, Ruma hadet dan id-dritt f’idejha. Il-Kapitlu tal-Katidral kien jirrapprezenta l-kleru Malti. Ruma ma tirrapprezenta lil hadd hlief lilha nnifisha.
Minhabba din il-bidla, l-ghazla ta’ Mauro Caruana bhala arcisqof kienet damet ghaxar xhur shah sabiex issir. Il-papa kien Benedittu XV; kienet ghaddejja l-gwerra l-kbira (l-Ewwel Gwerra Dinjija); u Malta kellna l-Isqof Awziljarju Dumnikan, Anglu Portelli.
Ghazla minn fuq
L-ghazla ta’ arcisqof “minn fuq”, jigifieri minn Ruma, flok mill-kleru lokali, wiehed jista’ ma jaqbilx maghha fil-principju. L-arcisqof, apparti li huwa r-raghaj spiritwali tal-poplu ta’ Alla fi hdan id-djocesi, hu wkoll l-“ewwel fost l-ugwali” tal-kleru. Ghaldaqstant, jaghmel ferm aktar sens li jintghazel mill-kleru u mhux li jigi impost “minn fuq”.
Ir-raguni ghala jsir hekk hija politika, biex Ruma tibqa’ f’kontroll. Hija raguni li taghmel sens ukoll, biex niftiehmu, imma mhijiex ghal kollox skond l-ispirtu ta’ ahwa li sa mill-bidu tal-Knisja l-Appostli fittxew li jhaddnu.
Illum is-sistema ta’ l-ghazla tista’ ssir aktar “diretta”, jigifieri bis-sehem tal-kleru kollu u mhux tal-Kapitlu tal-Katidral biss. Wiehed mill-ismijiet kunsidrati minn Ruma, nghidu ahna, jista’ jkun maghzul mill-kleru kollu. B’dan il-mod, ghallanqas ghall-apparenza l-process ta’ l-ghazla jkun rispettuz lejn ix-xewqat tal-kleru u lejn ir-riha tad-demokrazija.
Ghazla li tinhass
Bidla fl-oghla tmexxija ta’ l-arcidjocesi tinhass. Ovvjament, il-politika tal-Vatikan hi dik li hi bhalissa (u din mhijiex se tinbidel ghax tbiddel l-arcisqof). Imma l-attitudni li biha dik il-politika tigi trasmessa u anki x-xejra ta’ tmexxija li wiehed ihaddan jaghmlu kemmxejn tad-differenza.
Hemm mod u mod kif wiehed jimplimenta l-politika tal-Vatikan. Wiehed jista’ jghaddiha minn fuq ghal isfel b’mod aridu minghajr tentattiv ta’ “traduzzjoni” ghall-htigijiet, is-sensibbiltajiet u l-partikularitajiet lokali. U jista’ wiehed ifittex li jzewwaqha ma’ l-ilwien u r-ritmi tal-lokal.
Tghidli: iva, kollox sew; imma r-rizultat ikun l-istess. Jien nghidlek: le, mhux necessarjament. Ghax wiehed kapaci jaccetta aktar dak li jifhem; u kapaci jifhem aktar dak li jinghatalu bis-sens, l-gharfien u t-thejjija. Jaghmel differenza wiehed ikunx ihobb id-diskussjoni u d-djalogu u iehor li, minhabba xi raguni jew ohra, jibza’ minnhom.
Bidla fl-oghla tmexxija ta’ l-arcidjocesi kapaci taghti nifs gdid lill-Knisja lokali. Dan konna ilna nistennewh hafna snin; u issa fl-ahhar wasal.
Ghazla li tawgura tajjeb
Naturalment, lil Patri Pawl Cremona ili nafu hafna snin minhabba li ahna ta’ l-istess ordni religjuz. Ghext mieghu u anki kelli l-okkazjoni li nosservah mill-qrib f’diversi karigi li huwa kellu. Mhuwiex bniedem perfett, bhalma ma hu perfett ebda bniedem; imma ghandu kwalitajiet sbieh li jista’ juzahom b’rizqna lkoll.
Patri Pawl hu mhejji sewwa duttrinalment. Jistudja l-affarijiet fil-fond. Hu dejjem prudenti fi kliemu. Cajtier. Uman. Hlejju ma’ kulhadd. Umli. Semmiegh tajjeb tal-fehma ta’ haddiehor. Sod fid-dehizjonijiet tieghu.
L-ghazla tieghu, wara hafna stennija, ma jidhirx li kienet hazina. Dak in-nhar stess li gie nnominat, jien weghidtu l-ghajnuna kollha li nista’ naghtih; u din il-weghda nerga’ ngeddidha issa.
Jalla jibda’ fil-Knisja Maltija rebbiegha gdida.
When official news of the appointment of the Dominican friar Fr Paul Cremona as Malta's new Archbishop came out, I happened to be concluding in a somewhat tentative effort a piece of work in which I discussed what used to be in classical philosophy a controversial if fascinating idea, namely that of the unity of the virtues. Clumsily stated, this thesis holds that to have one virtue is to have them all and to lack one virtue is to lack them all.
While trying to come to terms with the great variety of emotions that assailed me upon learning that one of my closest brothers had been entrusted with this immense responsibility, I could not resist the temptation to draw striking parallels between the intuitions underpinning this hotly discussed thesis about the nature of human virtue and the temperament I had grown to love and deeply respect in this man over the years.
This may sound overtly sentimental in tone; I certainly do not wish to idealise or sublimate the fragility that is common to all who share this kind of animal nature, but I am confident that all those who have known Fr Paul - now Monsignor, I should say, though this comes not without considerable effort when keeping in mind that such a title is being bestowed on someone who has striven to live a life of authentic simplicity and generosity - would agree that this Dominican friar, and now Archbishop, has been in outstanding ways, a model of virtue and inspiration.
Without wearing my patient readers with tedious detail, but giving in slightly to reverence for the philosophically excitable among them, it is noteworthy that the doctrine of the unity and the interconnection of the virtues has been advanced in different ways by Socrates and Plato, Aristotle, Chrysippus and the Stoics, Plotinus and Augustine, and by Aquinas. All these thinkers held that in some sense the virtues are unified.
The strongest version of the thesis, held most notably by Socrates and the early Plato, states that Virtue is One, and that our names for all the apparently different virtues - courage, temperance, generosity, justice, and so on - refer to different aspects of the same single property. A weaker but still very strong version claims rather that the virtues are so integrated with each other that a person cannot have one virtue without having all the others. One cannot be truly courageous unless one is also just; one cannot be truly just unless one is also generous, as well as temperate, magnanimous, truthful, friendly, witty and so on.
On the face of it, however, this thesis seems plainly false. At the only significant point where the English philosopher Peter Geach dissents from Aquinas in his lectures on 'The Virtues' he denounces the argument for the unity of the virtues as "both odious and preposterous".
According to him the argument is flawed because of a tacit assumption that humans form their judgments with rigorous consistency - but "thank God that they do not". Indeed for that matter, not all wrong judgment is bad: "Inconsistency in the right place may save a man from worse errors than if he were not there inconsistent. For example, how much more affliction tyrants would cause if their minions were sea-green incorruptibles, flawlessly efficient and indefatigably industrious!"
Moreover, most of us are a mixture of good and bad. We have some good traits but lack others. An army general could be courageous but simultaneously impatient, intolerant and would possibly succumb to cream-cakes. Gandhi was a paragon of courage, justice, and integrity, but he was arguably a cold and unsympathetic husband.
There seems to be no obvious connection between generosity and honesty, between justice and patience, between courage and kindness. It is, therefore, the paradoxical character of the doctrine of the unity of the virtues that is likely to strike us when we think back to the phenomenological diversity found in the accounts of the different virtues offered by moral thinkers, psychologists and novelists. We are strongly tempted to conclude both from our personal experience and from the need to recognise and distinguish different kinds of moral qualities and achievements that the landscape of the virtues is after all characterised by radical disunity.
Aquinas's version of the thesis stresses the interconnectedness of virtue, though his account is marked by a typically inherent tension between the requirements of a rigorously scientific approach reverently inherited from Aristotle and his theological convictions often laden with Augustinian ideas (not any less scientific, but that depends on where you decide to fix your starting-point). Here he develops Aristotle's idea that the virtue of practical wisdom is central to the virtuous life and all the other virtues cluster around it because they depend on it.
However when it comes to the 'infused' moral virtues and the theological virtues, Aquinas shows the same reverence to Augustine's strictly Christian development of the thesis, whereby love, caritas, is the fundamental motive-force of the soul and its object is nothing other than God Himself.
Why this indulgence on virtue theory here? As I said at the beginning, the parallel came to me as a spontaneous response to a particular event as such. As I grew to know Fr Paul more closely I could not help enviously noting what a prime example of integrity he is. Upon reflection, my impression is that of a picture that is astonishingly similar to the story told by Aquinas in the second part of his major theological treatise.
On the one hand he is a man of deep principle and practical wisdom, prudential in the Thomistic sense of the word - knowing what right decision to make, choosing the worthiest means to achieve it, and ultimately taking action. This indeed was Aquinas's version of virtuous unity when we look at his Aristotelian face. The role of prudence here is precisely to integrate one's whole personality, thoughts with emotions, reasons with passions.
On the other hand, my experience of Fr Cremona is also consistently blessed with the primacy of charity. It is this strong Augustinian (and Johannine) emphasis on the centrality of love which makes him one of the most sensitive and compassionate people I have ever met. Thus it is no surprise that the culmination of his doctoral thesis on Pope John XXIII's concept of peace (defended at the Angelicum in 1973) is an extended analysis of charity.
There he explains his choice saying that, "for Pope John, charity (caritas, i.e. love as gift) is the supreme unifying factor in man: it is the most important step in man's building of a society which could be conducive to order and Peace." This was not a mere academic frill; it was a personal conviction that has guided his entire life.
Nonetheless I have been impressed by the wisdom and prudence that he increasingly manifested when occupying offices of leadership in our province and elsewhere. Of course being virtuous doesn't entail infallibility and Fr Paul would be the first to correct himself and to strive to learn from one's own failings or misperceptions. That in itself is a fundamentally integrative attitude towards the flourishing to maturity that is the hallmark of a virtuous character.
This remarkable blend of practical and theological wisdom may certainly be among the principal factors which have motivated the choice for his eventual nomination. Gifted with a sense of leadership and a creative theological and pastoral vision, possessed with excellent communicative and relationship skills, Paul Cremona is Pope Benedict's gift to the Church in Malta.
As has already been noted by many, people who have known or even just met "this happy priest" have been touched not only by the warmth he radiates even before words are uttered but also by his capacity to appreciate people as individuals and these as ends in themselves. It is the vulnerability of many people, us priests included, that punishing schedules may induce a quasi-insensitive and brusque approach to human vicissitudes.
Paul's ability to focus on the dignity of individuals as persons with their own individual story to tell was never diminished by his exceptionally high load of pastoral contacts. As he himself stated during the "shared" homily with that other distinguished son of the Maltese Dominican province, Bishop George Frendo, OP, (auxiliary of Tiranë-Durrës) on their Silver Jubilee from priestly ordination, his life has been profoundly shaped and informed by the experiences of faith and suffering in people's lives.
In one of his earliest statements, the Archbishop-elect referred to his long-held admiration for Pope John XXIII, noting the staggering reforms initiated by Vatican II which were introduced by an ailing and seemingly "transition-Pope". However it would be more accurate to say that the new leader of the Church in Malta today faces a challenging task that is more akin to the one undertaken by Paul VI, namely that of implementing the vision developed by the Council. In our case the local Catholic Church has recently celebrated a Synod, an event in which Bishop Cremona himself was actively engaged.
As was the case with liturgical reform brought by Vatican II, to mention one very tangible (and sensitive) dimension, the truly arduous task had been that of communicating the true spirit of that reform, coupled with the challenge of putting it into an every-day practice. I did on occasion provoke Paul's astonishment and perhaps his (well-controlled) irritation by saying that the true liturgical reformation intended by Vatican II has not yet even begun.
For one could easily mistake what are mere 'cosmetic' changes in rites, sequences etc. for a true renovation of spirit, where the celebration of the liturgy is first and foremost the expression and outcome of an authentically Christian life lived in communion with the Church. In any case, it is yet to be seen (or is it already too late?) how successful the implementation of that reform has been across the radically different responses given in Europe itself, not to mention the ecclesiological reality of other continents.
What approach will our new Archbishop adopt with respect to the vastly rich inheritance left by the local Synod? Although I don't feel entitled to comment on the Synod, since I was not even in the country throughout its celebration, one of my growing concerns has been the following. If a diocese stands in urgent need of renewal, then it could be less helpful to concentrate on derivative 'values' as they have been called, than on what is truly fundamental and essential to the Christian message. Put differently, if many of our people - especially the young - regrettably no longer even know what the Gospels are about, and who Christ is, how can we reasonably expect them to participate in practices which find their existential and explanatory roots in them?
These are not easy questions to tackle and Archbishop Cremona faces a fundamental and daunting task, namely motivating people to be motivated by the vision prescribed by the Synod. As recent Popes have often reiterated, the world needs to rediscover the mission, the message and the identity of Jesus Christ. That is a formidable calling, but it has the merit of being incisive and unambiguous. It is unmistakably concerned with roots, rather than branches which would otherwise be the signs of a blossoming vine.
Another one of Archbishop Cremona's opening statements was: "The good Lord has previously entrusted me with communities and a parish; now he has assigned me to a wider parish, a greater flock". One of the highlights of the parish priest Fr Paul Cremona was the introduction of 'pastoral zones'. This visionary idea recognised the need of solidarity, support and most of all, the formation of communities where the faith could be nourished. It mobilised an attitude of consolidation at the micro-level, that the structure at the macro-level might be enhanced. Will he now proceed by analogy, as we say in our circles, and implement this same mechanism, in a Church which is increasingly regenerated through relatively new movements and groups rather than through the traditional structures of the parish?
I am strongly tempted to think that these movements, whom the Popes themselves have spoken of as the "fruits of the Holy Spirit", have a role analogous to that played by the Mendicant Orders in the Middle Ages. These were born as an urgent response to the need for a more authentic witness to the Gospel. Many received them with scepticism (most of us still are!), but their contribution to the Church has been incalculable. How are we going to tap into the new "channels" of evangelisation and grace offered to us by God through His own people?
Here the suggestion underpinning my argument might be prone to the familiar objection of making a sweeping judgment. Incidentally this is one of the few ways by which our new spiritual leader would be infallibly incensed: he has absolutely no time for generalisations and sweeping statements, whether they stem from Richard Dawkins's hyped-up rubbish in his recent The God Delusion, or else from one of his own brethren.
"He will not break a bruised reed or quench a smouldering wick" (Mt. 12:20). This description, I believe, faithfully depicts Archbishop Cremona's temperament and attitude to persons. His compassion, patience and humility ought not to be interpreted as a lack of assertiveness, however. His faith together with his understanding of the mission of the Church transcends labels of 'conservative' and 'progressive' for in a way the Church is essentially both. Those who judge the Church in terms of conservativeness and progressiveness have arguably a defective understanding of what the true meaning of the Tradition of the Church is. In fact it is deeply conservative due to its faithfulness to the Gospel and yet it is indefatigably progressive in discerning the signs of new times.
As a true son and perennial admirer of St Dominic, Fr Paul deeply loves the Church founded by Christ and is driven by a charismatic call to evangelisation and to coherent witness. He naturally disapproved of the pagan excesses associated with traditional festas and which, in the name of folklore, are a monstrous caricature of the saints' authentic spirit and which year after year grossly misrepresent their personality, charisma, spirituality and mission.
Finally, Archbishop Cremona certainly needs neither an introduction, nor does he expect pompous tributes. My profound gratitude and prayer go to him at this turning point in our story of salvation. I commend him - as well as the Maltese Dominican province, which has been 'orphaned' during these past months - to the prayers and filial respect of the people of God.
Fr Caruana is writing from St Dominic's Priory in Southampton Road, London
The spirituality of the Archbishop-elect has been attested by several people who know him. Others have alluded to his capacity for humour and irony, particularly when confronted with pomposity. But is there anything more specific that his Dominican identity and 10 books over the last 18 years (some co-written) can tell us?
His being a Dominican friar says something about his particular experience of Church hierarchy. The secular clergy tends to experience it as a pyramid structure of control - something you climb, and having climbed, you might stop, but not go down. The most cursory look at Mgr Paul Cremona's curriculum vitae, however, indicates something else.
He was elected provincial of his order in his mid-30s and served for less than 10 years. Since then he has been Prior, off and on, of the convent in Rabat. He has been in charge of novices, and served as parish priest in two different parishes. It is an experience of going up and down, up again, but not so high, and moving sideways. He has exercised authority over his brethren and then served under some of them.
It is not an experience that can be understood in career terms. It is based on an understanding of hierarchy as more than just a pyramid, as one of variously calibrated functions. It is hierarchy experienced as subsidiarity - as the exercise of distributed authority, and not a centralised one.
His books treat of several subjects - from the concept of peace in John XXIII to ethics and the sacramental life of the Church. It is fruitless to comb them for daring opinions that skirt the boundaries of what is permitted and forbidden by orthodoxy. It is not just that his answers conform to the standard catechism. What is striking about the writings is that he refuses to think of moral theology as God's Dos and Don'ts.
For him, moral theology is concerned with the human response to God's invitations. Liberty is an important value for him: as a young friar working on his doctorate on the thought of John XXIII, the attention to liberty was what struck him. And why? Because liberty is essential if men and women are to take up God's invitation to work for peace and communion between peoples: The invitation often entails taking hold of one's life and resisting others, including the state.
It is this idea of responsiveness that leads him to call his book on the Commandments, I Live. The commandments, in his characteristically Dominican thought, do not constrain; they liberate one to live responsively - and, a favourite word, responsibly. In becoming responsible, his book on the virtues emphasises, one frees up one's capacities for spontaneous acts of justice, courage, good sense, as well as faith, hope and charity.
Perhaps the most striking characteristic of his writings is their confidence in reason. His booklet on abortion has a shrill rhetorical title (Life Or Death?) but one has to suspect a meddling editor, since the text itself is remarkable for the unfazed way in which it faces up to the various considerations - medical, cultural and social - raised by the tormenting issue. Written over 20 years ago, it stands up well (whatever one makes of its conclusions) beside the public discussions carried on about bioethics and IVF last year.
He writes simply but treats his reader as an adult. What do other religions say about abortion, he asks. They all permit it to a greater or lesser extent. This he takes as an opportunity to look closer at the issue, and not to swipe at the other religions. And it goes on like this, from book to book.
He tends to be dry, taking pride in his capacity for simple but accurate exposition. But the dryness is very likely because some of the writings were meant for oral discussion in smaller groups, with the fine-grained experience of individuals to be sifted in dialogue and community. The idea of the Church as communion is what guides him: as a parish priest of Guardamangia he decided that his parishioners ought to explore their spirituality together; but since he thought this unlikely to happen except in a small group, he divided the parish up into zones of 150 people and got down to talking.
At this stage, it is not clear if this background has equipped Mgr Cremona for the specific challenges of the episcopate. His spirituality has been emphasised by those who know him well, but historically that has disabled some bishops when carrying out their duties, as much as it has enabled others. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is one of the most profound Christian theologians of the last 25 years, as astute when writing about worldly power as he is illuminating about the life of the spirit, and yet his period at the helm of the Anglican Church has been characterised by a number of miscalculations about the Churches he leads.
We have yet to see whether Mgr Cremona will be able to use his intellectual formation and pastoral experience to channel the considerable energies of the Maltese Church into the building of its sense of communion.
On the one hand, the workings of hierarchy in the Curia are not quite like those of the Dominican Order. His invitation to people to take more responsibility for themselves - as he understands it - may meet with resistance or misunderstanding from several sides. For his approach, largely free of the hang-ups of 19th century Church-state European politics and their aftermath in 20th century Malta, does not quite fit either of those two loosely used categories, "liberal" and "conservative".
On the other hand, his may be the right kind of preparation for the challenges faced by the 21st century Maltese Church: finding a proper institutionalised, ungrudging role for the laity, particularly women and addressing the de-territorialisation of Christian community, that is, the fact that parishes are increasingly not the most meaningful foci of community within the Church.
His Dominican experience of subsidiarity within the Church may make him ready to exploit all the resources of flexibility that this affords Church organisation - such as that of the permanent diaconate. And his Dominican regard for doctrine - as something that helps experience flow, rather than something that turns it into a coagulated lump of clichés - may possibly lead him to address those members of the laity who are energetically engaged in accompanying others through life crises (say, drug addiction or heart surgery) but without a theological preparation that would properly illuminate the journey.
We shall see. Let us remember, however, that in a religion with a crucified man at the centre of its attention, achievement is measured not by the rate of intended outcomes, but by how splendidly, how lovingly, one fails.
Mgr Cremona has accepted the challenge of leading the Diocese with enthusiasm. He feels he has been chosen because he can build bridges and mend fences. The words were said with a smile (Sunday Times, December 3). Nevertheless, they tell of gaps, perhaps chasms, and of differences, maybe big ones. There are no politico-religious issues in play today. There is a society in rapid transition, and a Church labouring to catch up with it without weakening its fundamental values.
Declining attendance at Sunday Mass is only one statistical symptom of what may be a developing crisis. If it is a crisis, it needs a new approach. The new archbishop is set to offer that. "A crisis may be ingrained with fear, and you could therefore paralyse it," were among the first words he uttered on Saturday. "A crisis may (however) serve as a moment of reflection..."
There is much to reflect upon. May God grant Mgr Cremona the insight, wisdom and strength required to be a builder of bridges, a mender of fences, and a Good Shepherd.
* * *
Centre stage of the Catholic Church in Malta has been allocated to Archbishop-designate, Fr Paul Cremona. Rightly so. The appointment was late in coming. It arrives three years after the incumbent, Archbishop Joseph Mercieca, had offered his resignation, on turning 75. The Vatican took its time. Our parish priest, at Attard, put an angle to it which was profound in its simplicity.
In arguably the best of his homilies since he took over from the hard-working Fr Dione Cutajar, Fr Noel Vassallo said he had been one of those puzzled by the dragging of Vatican feet. Yet - he continued - as with the preparation for the coming of Christ, it had a purpose, after all. Perhaps the time was not ripe for the right choice to be made. When the decision was taken, look at the result.
The selection of Patri Pawl Cremona made all those who showed their feeling respond to his disarming smile with their own genuine smiles of happiness. The charisma of the new Shepherd of the restless Maltese archdiocese was one reason why he was so gladly received.
But there is much more to him. A simple man as befits a member of a holy order, he has an intellect that was noted well before he was chosen. His peers described him as an intellectual. If not the major quality to be sought in a bishop, it does help for a spiritual leader to be able to argue his view, alongside the faith that has to be its essence.
Fr Cremona is also said to be a man who understands the importance of the media, and how the media work. That will definitely be an added advantage, as he strives to make people more aware of the true meaning of faith. Of spirituality. Of the awesomeness of believing without understanding completely, or much at all.
In a world now dependent on communications, the media are truly the message. I spent an invigorating evening, recently, with a handful of clerical and lay thinkers. They were not above exchanging their views with a guest who is not quite an exemplary being in the fold, and with a past which others deemed to be anticlerical, though it was never quite that.
I was asked questions, to which I did not try to provide answers, for I cannot offer that which I do not have.
I attempted to provoke non-mainstream thought, and generally found I was outflanked in that area as well. There do remain considerable fossilised members of the clergy, evidenced, for instance, by public disdain towards Maltese Catholics who have embraced Islam. There is also a great deal of understanding of current spiritual, social and economic problems, and of the way society works.
Does the Church in Malta understand the media, I was asked. Are there things which could and should be communicated with benefit to the doers and recipients of the information alike, but are not? The answers were implicit in the questions, put to me more to make me aware, than to offer an opinion that was not already manifest.
The Church may have its own radio and a variety of newspapers. I do think it is a fact, however, that both absolutely and relatively there is little media interest in what the various components of the Church in Malta are doing. It is not a question of following the tenet of modesty, not to let the left hand know what the right is doing.
The human side of the institution that is the Church translates into activities that are at least as interesting as most of those carried out by lay institutions like political parties and their local centres. God forbid that pastoral work should seek attention similar to that craved by organisers of political activities. Or that the bishops' sermons should be remotely regarded like the competitive Sunday sermons given by the political leaders.
Nevertheless, where there are deeds of value, they should be brought to wider attention than is being done. Similarly regarding views expressed by the bishops, and other churchmen, outside their traditional forums.
The fact that Archbishop-designate Paul Cremona understands the media might bring about a reappraisal of how the Church could earn media attention that could reach considerably more than the word from the pulpit. There could be a more direct passage into the media as well, for someone with Patri Pawl's writing talent. Bishop Nikol Cauchi demonstrated that during the long years he tended to the flock in Gozo.
I encountered his strong and persuasive manner of putting his point across in a discussion we shared at the Catholic Institute, not so long after the Curia and the MLP at long last ended the bitter politico-religious dispute of the Sixties, in the blessed Easter of Peace of 1969. Bishop Cauchi ventured well beyond the limited space of the Catholic Institute.
He made worthy and skilful use of the columns of The Times, and continues to do so now. Who knows whether Archbishop Cremona, too, might not find the time to reach out through newspaper columns?
He has much to tend to, for Malta is well into the post-modern society, where spirituality has, at the very least, to be redefined if it is to be understood. He will not be taking crisis measures. Fr Cremona, when his selection was made public, straightaway wisely declined to accept that falling church attendance was a symptom of a Church in crisis.
Yet he will have to work hard and with speed on drawing up a plan to revitalise the Church in Malta as an institution, and to refurbish her image. Careful use of the media will be one of the many ways to approach that demanding task.
As that takes place, the reasons why he was chosen - for there would be quite a few of them - and his unconscious preparation for the role, should start becoming clearer.
It is natural that Fr Cremona should occupy centre stage, though it is already clear he accepts the limelight not for his ego, but as a means of beginning the essential process of communicating. While that takes place, the years of service rendered by Archbishop Mercieca should not be forgotten.
When the Pope appointed Mgr Mercieca 30 years ago, the wounds of the Sixties, opened by the politico-religious dispute between the Curia and the MLP, had by no means healed completely. Where they had closed, the scars still burned. Archbishop Gonzi had given the Labour government a hand in its stand-off with the British government in the early Seventies. Acrimonious though their relationship had been in the past, former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff always gave credit to Mgr Gonzi for his intervention.
That is not to say that, a mere seven years later, the peace pact of April 1969 had wiped clean the consciousness of Labourites who experienced the Curia's wrath of the Sixties, or of clerics who viewed Labourites as anti-clericals. Mutual trust was not easy to establish. Looking back over my involvement in politics or close thereto in the first 22 of Mgr Mercieca's years at the helm, I believe trust did creep back. In part, it was due to his self-effacing manner.
He was a Gozitan, and the traits that mark his people were abundant in him - a way of thinking below the surface, projecting sideways rather than unerringly straight, a guile, if you like. But there was more. Mgr Mercieca was, perhaps, overly careful, and slow to take decisions.
I did not take kindly to his reluctance to speak out on fiscal immorality, which I urged him to do when I was appointed Finance Minister in 1996. And the innards of the parishes, the positions he filled in strategic areas, all produced rumbles which included considerable clerical and lay discontent from time to time. That tended to limit appreciation of how assiduously he worked to position the Church on a sound if overly uncontroversial basis.
The outgoing Archbishop's views on the role of working women in society were not the most avant-garde one could hope for, even in terms of careful Catholic positioning. To an extent, that was due to the style of expression, though the substance, too, ruffled feathers. There was nothing missing, though, in the way he expressed himself to the political class when he spoke to its members as a whole.
I listened to Archbishop Mercieca do that four times, in the homilies he gave during the Mass of the Holy Spirit on the opening of the Legislatures of 1981, '87, '92 and '96. Those were deeply-thought addresses. They were also proof of insufficient media projection by the Church in Malta. The homilies (which Archbishop Mercieca read out) were circulated to the media. They were not duly followed up by the Shepherd, or members of the clergy, for the strong strands of thought they wove together.
Mgr Mercieca, I feel, was also particularly impressive when he addressed media-persons, without speaking notes, in his annual meeting with them in Floriana, and when he spoke to children. On first listening, his words would seem simplistic. They never were that. Simple, yes, that was how he reached into the heart, and planted the right seeds into the mind.
When i would ask him, in recent years, what he would do when he finally was allowed to retire, Mgr Mercieca would indicate a desire to find a small place, somewhere in Malta, where he could be a simple priest. I understand that, after Fr Cremona's investiture, Mgr Mercieca will take up residence in a house that is not as small as he may have wished. He will be staying in Attard, where Pope John Paul II stayed during his first visit to Malta.
I suppose he will say Mass at the chapel in the St Catherine's rest-home, across the way, at other times at the Tal-Mirakli chapel nearby, or Attard parish church, down the road. He will be an unobtrusive priest, as he was a rather unobtrusive Archbishop. As a person, he will not be much different, really, than he has been over the past 30 years. He may have the occasional bad dream, but far fewer headaches.
Those will be for Mgr Paul Cremona to grapple with. Along their different paths, in their respective sunrise and sunset, they will both be looking to the same Higher Light to guide them. That never changes.
* * *
In a land without heroes
There was an audible sigh of relief as Malta rapidly got to know her new Archbishop. Among the active faithful, there was euphoria. The relief was far more widespread. It reached those who do not normally get excited by such an event.
The reaction was more psychological than religious. It confirmed what had been obvious to social and political analysts: Malta had become an island without icons. The crisis of lack of leadership cried out for a hero.
Not one who fights against all odds, who vanquishes all comers. Or dreams the impossible dream. Someone to look up to. Who could dream the possible dream, symbolise it and transmit the belief that it is within the reach of each and every one of us. Our clutch of political, social and business leaders generate little excitement. No one really stands out as a beacon, an inspiration. The humdrum has become the norm.
The feeling that there is something lacking, a spark to light our fire, an example to follow is not often discussed.
We have simply been living it. A life without any invigorating breeze, with no hint of spring in the air. Across the whole spectrum of society, among the young as well as the not so young, jadedness prevailed.
When Fr Paul Cremona's face hit the media, the relief was palpable. Much has been made of his smile. It is, beyond doubt, something quite out of the ordinary. It is effortless and genuine, unlike the smile so many politicians wear nowadays. It is captivating.
And yet, it would be superficial to attribute the impact of the man on our society to his engaging smile. When he smiles - yes - the whole world smiles with him. But it is his whole manner and being that singles him out. That makes his presence strike to the core those within its direct or media range.
Fr Cremona is at his most magnetic not when he radiates his smile but when it slips away and his faces composes in serious reflection. If the smile lights up the dark, the sight of Mgr Cremona in deep thought is at one and the same time intriguing and reassuring.
It says, here is a man who does so much more than smile. He reflects. Here is a man used to living a simple life, who draws from his mentor, Pope John XXIII, to ask for abiding humility and beg his Maker for guidance and strength. Here is a man to look up to, a man always humble and willing to learn, able to lead by following his reason, his instinct, his faith.
These qualities will bring relief to those who want active Church leadership. Who feel there is a need for change in the human apparatus of the Church in Malta, as well as in the way she reaches out to persuade and guide.
That is only a part of it. Others, who believe without being too convinced, who feel they belong to a different era from that still inhabited by the Church they were baptised into without having any say in the matter, who do not care much or believe at all - they make the remarkable balance that also breathed a sigh of relief that there is, at long last, an icon in the making, a hero to look up to.
Patri Pawl will be taken aback to be dubbed a hero. He does not want to be an icon. He wants to serve his Maker, and the flock He entrusted to his care. Archbishop Cremona's mission lies within the Church, where there is so much that needs to be done.
Yet he also has qualities that stand out beyond the Church, as if they were independent of him.
A society that has been starved of their like will, faith or no faith, be inspired by those qualities. And pray that they may serve as an example to others to follow, so that the lack of leadership, the absence of icons and heroes evident for so long, can be remedied.
Se jkollna Arcisqof bhall-Papa Gwanni XXIII… prezenza siekta li taghmel bidliet kbar minghajr storbju. Patri Pawl, kif hafna jafuh, se jiftah tieqa gdida fuq il-Knisja Maltija li ghaddejja minn zminijiet difficli. Se jgib atteggjament gdid li ilu jinhass il-bzonn tieghu. Wara 90 sena se jerga’ jkollna Arcisqof religjuz, Dumnikan. Se jgib mieghu l-imhabba u l-esperjenza “ta’ patri” li ghal bosta Maltin ifisser “missier li jifhem u jaghder”.
Il-patrijiet ifissru hafna ghalina l-Maltin ghax huma xhieda hajja ta’ rapport intimu ma’ Alla, spiritwalità genwina, umanità, genwinità. Il-patri hu dak li jisimghek, li jibni pontijiet, li jimxi mieghek fil-Mixja iebsa tal-hajja u ssibu mieghek “bil-fardal” lest li jahsillek riglejk. Se ikun Arcisqof ta’ kulhadd – imma b’mod specjali tal-Fqar. L-Arcisqof Pawl Cremona ser ikun dan kollu ghal bosta nies li qatghu qalbhom mill-knisja illum u jaghtihom dik “it-tisfija tal-memorja” tant mehtiega.
After ninety years we now have a Dominican priest, little known outside the Order of Preachers to whom he belongs. What are we to expect of him?
For decades, despite the towering figure of Pope John Paul II, the Roman Catholic Church seems to have been lost for answers as its ranks continued to dwindle, especially in the West.
The Jesuits' - and Opus Dei's - efforts to breed leaders from among the elite and the intellectually endowed, reap low dividends while Catholic Action holds nothing like the sway over ordinary young people it did in past years. As a result, the wheels seem to be coming off the Catholic Church's celebrity hub.
For Catholics in Malta, times have been no less depressing. As the onslaught on basic Catholic beliefs made inroads unto the breach, prelates stood either Sphinx-like passive or buried their mitred heads deeper in the ecclesiastical sand.
As the burdens of a fast changing world grow heavier, more and more people are losing interest in an institution no longer able to punch at par with, much less above, its weight. If ever a modern country needed the comfort of the Catholic Church's expert understanding of the human condition, Malta was it.
There always was a price to pay for this low level of spiritual rearmament.
Should we care?
Those concerned with this country's moral compass and its future certainly should.
Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop Mario Grech in Gozo face few options if they wish to turn back the tide - beyond, of course, carrying out a root-and-branch overhaul of what appears to be a ceremonial, hollow, aging Church. God only knows where to start. The glowworm transience of TV chat show appearances and newspaper interviews will hardly do the trick.
Being Catholic is a choice - one of many we face in maintaining our lives in proper balance. It takes leaders with flames of will and courage leaping into the air to compete for our hearts and minds when that balance is lost.
Not that Archbishop Cremona and Bishop Grech lack prospects: both are relatively young, both appear endowed with the common touch and are deft, it seems, at taking the battle to the enemy, so to speak - Archbishop Cremona with his disarming smile and Thomistic logic and Bishop Grech with his seductive common folk allure. It should not be difficult for both to get onto the pages of those who continue to complain and condemn for being left defenceless against people with power and fierce market forces.
The challenge ahead is not so much to revive values by which our parents lived: that would be almost futile in today's world. What should work better would be to provide us with a liturgy of convergence - one that helps us uphold fundamental Catholic tenets in a modern world.
None of my Catholic friends in Britain and elsewhere complain of being unable to live good Catholic lives as the world continues changing. Only in Malta are people almost encouraged to believe they can have it all - cars, money, divorce, travel, houses, loose easy lives - without paying a price.
One strategy that will create a totally new landscape would be to negotiate a clearer understanding of how Church-State relations must work in the future. We are all in the end defined by the instructions we get from Church and State. Put simply, the time has come for the Church to get back into the equation of how the national agenda is laid down. It's silly to go on believing politicians, here and elsewhere, know best.
The delineation between Church and state was originally etched into public policy by Dom Mintoff.
The truth is that that divide has failed the country to a woeful degree. Church silence in the face of countless transgressions, misgivings, misguided policies, and, often, crass inefficiencies - to which the state either turns a blind eye or gives nods - has not made this a better country or us a better nation. Politics, plagued as these remains by chicanery, covert deceit, overt relativism and clueless protagonists, still land the country into one almighty mess after the other.
Many are no longer convinced the island's political class - or at least an administration that has been in place for 20 years now (the one before it, which lasted 16 years, never lost a single opportunity to clumsily badger to death every single traditional value that came in the way of a good Socialist myth) - has the foggiest idea how to end any of the festering social ills that dog this country, including rapidly collapsing moral standards that end up creating huge social imbalances.
Enough signs confirm this - not least the continuous rise of an angered civil society and protesting non-government organisations. They can't all be Labour voters.
We shall all be fools to image there can be no halting to the alarming increase in marriage breakdowns; that the battle against drug and alcohol abuse is all but lost; that the yawning divide between those that have much too much and those that have far too little is unstoppable; that diminishing incomes and abusive taxation are here to stay; that unbridled property market forces are a natural outcome of economics.
The belief that corruption still runs high is more, not less, credible; patronage and privilege, in a country wishing to be modern and a democracy, are a matter of lingering shameful chronicle. It is not only politicians who stubbornly refuse to take a firm axe to these problems for fear of becoming unpopular. There's a whole list of institutions that are equally guilty.
Will Archbishop Cremona and Bishop Grech make a difference?
In the end, we shall know their mettle by the power of their convictions, their skills and by their resolve to stand up and speak out without fear of making enemies.
We shall know them by their commitment to refurbish the Church internally and its reputation outside. There is an almost universal belief - mistaken, one hopes - that the Church is run by a handful of acolytes swarming around the bishops, people too weak even to rein in rogue priests: many believe that, in the main, the Church is not self-critical enough, that it favours one political party over the other, that it feels more at home with conservatives than with liberals, more at ease with Europhiles than with Eurosceptics, more keen to ignore than solve problems - worse still, that it lives in the far distant horizon, out of touch with people's everyday problems.
For the moment, while the celebrations continue, it all looks a bit like standing in front of a fairground poster inviting us to roll up and watch the Catholic Church of Malta present its latest act.
This may be the dawn of a new beginning. But if it fails, people will go on turning their backs on a Catholic Church too old to help resolve the big issues that distort our lives - or provide effective moral leadership.
Wouldn't that be a great sin?
As an all-rounder, Archbishop Paul Cremona will not simply add value to the good governance of the Church in Malta. He will actually, God willing, act as a catalyst of change in this still much respected Maltese institution and in Maltese society generally, besides binding both more firmly together.
Through the passage of time, the credibility of the Maltese Catholic Church, despite major PR setbacks, has not been permanently dented, tainted or tarnished in any major way, as is the case of a number of other high-profile Maltese institutions.
A tangible proof of this, apart from the results of polls, is the great and long-standing trust (notwithstanding the competition) of the people - including that of non-Catholics and even non-Christians - in its micro institutions. These offer, often free of charge or at very low prices, first-rate services in such areas as education, counselling and geriatric care.
In the parlance of IT, all that the local Church would now need to have is a reconfiguration which is followed by a "refreshment". All the necessary building blocks are already there and they are also of excellent quality. These need only to be reconfigured and re-energised by the new Master Builder, according to the dictates of the Holy Spirit and to the requirements of the signs of the times.
After that, if not simultaneously, the Master Builder can proceed to the more delicate and challenging role of Bridge Builder, for which he is both very competent (as I and many others can vouchsafe) and much disposed, as he himself has acknowledged.
Archbishop-elect Mgr Paul Cremona was given yet another warm welcome, this time at the Crossroads Bar, in Rabat, on Wednesday night.
Mgr Cremona was invited, through Fr Charles Tonna, a Dominican, to pass by the bar after a function he had at the Dominican Priory, and he did. To the bar's regular clientele, mostly hunters, it was a visit by "an esteemed dignitary to ordinary people like us".
Tea, coffee and some port flowed as weather-beaten faces waited eagerly for his arrival. Some were already seated at 6 p.m. even though they knew he would not turn up before 9.30 p.m. or even later.
Typical village bar jokes were shared, and men who knew each other by name but who preferred to be called by their nicknames, poked fun at each other and joked about themselves before Mgr Cremona arrived.
But they had all taken this visit seriously. Bar owner Raymond Abela organised a collection so that his parruccani would give Mgr Cremona a decent gift. A silver icon was bought, which the Archbishop-elect was elated to receive. Another gift given to him was a large framed poster of the late Pope John Paul II, which Mgr Cremona held up high.
As more people trickled in, it got pretty packed inside the bar and space on the benches and stools suddenly become very limited. A person who had taken up a cosy spot by one of the tall fridges was jokingly told to give up his seat to the Archbishop-elect as soon as he walked in so that he'd be able to hear some confessions.
"He'd have a lot to do here, he'd have to stay up all night," someone else shouted jokingly. All the men were at their best behaviour for the night. There was a carpet of cigarette butts outside as men went out to smoke. One of them got up to sweep and collect them in preparation for Mgr Cremona's arrival. A huge, beautiful Great Dane, belonging to one of the patrons, was taken home as the time of the visit was approaching.
Aldo Galea and his brother Raymond, Tad-Duwi, are two passionate hunters. I've known them for a long time and they know what I feel about hunting. They have matured and mellowed a little, but birds still fill their heads: "He's not like the turtle doves," Raymond told me. "We know he will come tonight!" he said.
Mgr Cremona's visit meant a lot to them. Staunch Labour Party supporters rubbed shoulders with Nationalists inside. Parliamentary Secretary Tony Abela was there too as the bar is pretty much "his territory". Only one thing was important for them; giving Mgr Cremona the warmest possible welcome from the bottom of their hearts.
"This visit is about us and him, not about what we feel or do," one said. "His visit here is not a statement about hunting or politics. Just as his visit to Paceville does not mean he agrees with what goes on there," another added.
One went to get a big cake he had previously ordered and even champagne was brought out for the occasion. There was elation as Mgr Cremona suddenly appeared at the door and the ever-smiling priest was overwhelmed by the reception he was given. Hand shaking and hugging lasted for some time as everyone tried to get as close as possible. Many stood up on the benches to get a better view. There was jolly rowdiness inside and Fr Tonna had to speak at the top of his voice to read out a short message on behalf of the parruccani before Mgr Cremona was given the gifts and cut the cake.
As it was feared that photos of him in the bar might be used by some to tarnish his image, or to imply he was making some statement about hunting, it was agreed that no pictures would be taken in the bar.
Mgr Cremona sipped an orange juice as champagne corks popped.
There were no overt or hidden messages in the visit. It was a cause for celebration for men who knew the priest from his days at the convent, which lies just a stone's throw away. They felt honoured that the humble priest they knew, who would soon be leading Malta's Church, paid them a visit in their home ground.
A few women appeared on the doorstep and some brought young kids to see the Archbishop-elect. Some photos were hurriedly snapped outside as it was time for him to leave. Irrespective of whether those photos, taken with small digital cameras at 10.30 at night, turn out to be of good quality or not, the people who were there will surely have images of Mgr Cremona's visit planted in their minds and hearts for the rest of their lives.