FROM AGNOSTIC TO CHAMPION OF THE CHURCH JOHN WATERS EXPLAINS WHY HE FELL BACK IN LOVE WITH THE FAITH PAGE 7
April 23 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Pope urges Malta to keep the faith First foreign papal trip of the year a success, says Vatican Holy Father honours St Paul on anniversary of shipwreck Pontiff weeps during meeting with abuse victims
BY ANNA ARCO IN VALLETTA
POPE BENEDICT XVI has urged the people of Malta not to lay aside their faith in the face of growing secularism.
During a two-day visit to the fortress island Pope Benedict told the Maltese not to take everything proposed in today’s world on board.
Speaking at an open-air Mass at Floriana, near Malta’s capital Valletta, the Pope said: “Not everything that today’s world proposes is worthy of acceptance by the people of Malta. Many voices try to persuade us to put aside our faith in God and his Church and choose for ourselves the values and beliefs by which to live. They tell us we have no need of God and his Church. If we are tempted to believe them we should recall the incident in today’s Gospel, when the disciples, all of them experienced fishermen, toiled all night but failed to catch a single fish.”
Much of the Pope’s first visit abroad this year was dedicated to the challenges of secularism, both in Malta and in Europe, though he also addressed immigration and held a private meeting with victims of clerical abuse. Malta remains one of the last countries in Europe to forbid divorce or abortion and 98 per cent of its population is Catholic. About half of them regularly attend Mass, which is a high attendance rate for Europe.
But Maltese attitudes are in flux, a fact echoed by Archbishop Paul Cremona of Malta at the papal Mass last Sunday. He spoke of Malta’s changing society, which he said presented a “challenge for the Catholic Church to examine itself and its methods of evangelisation”.
Expectations for the visit were low, according to organisers and the media, not least because of the clerical abuse crisis that has overshadowed the Church around the world in recent months. The Church in Malta has also been troubled by emerging abuse cases, though Archbishop Cremona met victims before the papal visit. But organisers and the Vatican were pleased and surprised by the turnout at the papal events.
The Pope held an unannounced
Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone join young people on a catamaran to the harbour of Malta’s capital city, Valletta and emotional meeting with eight of victims of clerical abuse after the Mass in Floriana at the nunciature in Rabat where he was staying. According to one of the victims, the Pope shed tears while listening to their stories. The meeting began with silent prayer and was followed by the Pope speaking to each victim individually.
A Vatican statement said the Pope “was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered”.
One of the victims, Lawrence Grech, said that the meeting had allowed him to make peace with the Church. “I admire the Pope for his courage in meeting us,” said Mr Grech. “He did not have to say sorry, because the abuse was not the fault of one person. He should not carry the guilt of others.”
Joseph Magro, another victim, asked the Pope why his abusers had done such things to him. He said the Pope replied: “I do not know... I do not know why they did this to you. It is too great a horror, too great a horror perhaps even for God.”
Pope Benedict arrived in Malta on Saturday while volcanic ash clouds were disrupting air travel across Europe. At the opening ceremony at the airport President George Abela welcomed the Pope and called for more transparency in the Church in the face of the abuse crisis. Pope Benedict then made his way to the former Grandmaster’s palace where Malta’s parliament is now housed. On the square 4,000 children sang Happy Birthday to the Pontiff, who had turned 83 the day before.
Pope Benedict then went to
Rabat to pray in the Grotto of St Paul where Pope John Paul II prayed in 1990. The papal visit was celebrating the 1,950th anniversary of St Paul’s shipwreck in Malta.
Echoing the words of Pope John Paul II on his last visit to Malta, Pope Benedict urged the Maltese to spread the Gospel. He said: “From this holy place where the apostolic preaching first spread throughout these islands, I call upon each of you to take up the exciting challenge of the new evangelisation.”
Despite rain and cold weather around 50,000 people attended the Mass at Floriana carrying both Maltese and papal flags, banners and posters of the Pope.
One participant, Evelyn Grech from Zabbar, said: “It’s very exciting and emotional to have the Pope here. We are very happy. It’s a blessing for us that he has come to this island. We are a small island with a big heart and we are very pleased and happy to have him.”
Fr Philip Curmi, one of the priests who took part in the Mass, said: “It was an enjoyable day, we were pleased with the turnout and it was great to see this sort of enthusiasm which shows the faith of our country.
“Now we have to give our faith to others, in experiences, words and actions. Then we’d really be celebrating the centenary of St Paul – that is to say, that the faith we celebrated here will also be celebrated in our everyday lives.”
On Sunday afternoon the Pope sailed through the harbour of Valletta on a catamaran surrounded by a fleet of boats for a service with 10,000 young Maltese. People packed the battlements. A group of young people presented him with their questions and fears about life in the modern world, including one who spoke on behalf of those who felt they were on the outskirts of the Church, including those with same-sex attractions, drug addictions or broken families.
Pope Benedict told them that Christ offered an all-inclusive love and that the Church rejected no one. The Holy Father also addressed the issue of immigration. Malta, which is just 200 miles from Libya, gets a disproportionate number of immigrants from Africa every year.
The Pope said he hoped Malta would continue to “come to the aid of those who arrive here and to ensure that their rights are respected”.
Analysis: Page 4 Editorial Comment: Page 13
Editor says he was pressured to delay report into maternal deaths
BY ED WEST
PRO-ABORTION groups applied pressure to the world’s leading medical journal to suppress a report into maternal death rates, it has been claimed.
Dr Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, told the New York Times he was pressured “by advocacy groups” to delay publication of the report until later this year. Dr Horton said the organisations – which he refused to name – wanted the information withheld until after the UN Commission on Population and Development (CPD), the Women Deliver Conference scheduled for June in Washington and the next UN General Assembly, which is also scheduled to address maternal mortality.
The Lancet study found that maternal mortality rates have been significantly inflated by UN agencies. The medical journal reported a 2008 worldwide maternal death rate of 342,900, rather than the more than 500,000 used by the World Bank, World Health Organisation and the UN Children’s Fund.
The Lancet found that progress had been made in preventing deaths in pregnancy and cited four main reasons: declining pregnancy rates in some countries, higher per capita income, higher education rates for women and increasing availability of basic medical care, including “skilled birth attendants”.
The report also found that HIV/Aids killed 60,000 pregnant women a year and that more antiretroviral drugs would have lowered this, contradicting the policy of both the UN and the US, which divert funding from HIV/Aids to family planning as a way to reduce maternal deaths.
They also found increases in maternal mortality in the US, Canada, Denmark and Norway, countries with the most liberal abortion laws in the world.
Travel firm rescues stranded pilgrims
Ringo Starr rebuffs praise from Vatican
BY DAVID V BARRETT
PAX TRAVEL, a company which organises Christian pilgrimages, is working hard to get people back to Britain despite the flight restrictions caused by the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland.
“On Sunday we repatriated an Anglo-Catholic group from Assisi by coach,” managing director Philip Dean told The Catholic Herald, saying they had three drivers and travelled right through the night.
On Tuesday they co-ordinated a two-way repatriation. A group of 47 Italian children and three teachers from the Liceo Classico in Treviso, near Venice, were in Britain. Pax Travel arranged a coach to take them to Calais. It then returned with Fr Thomas Regan and 36 Catholic pilgrims from the Church of Our Lady and St Michael in Abergavenny, Wales, who had been on pilgrimage in Padua.
“As Catholic operators we are trying to do the best we can,” said Mr Dean.
BY DAVID V BARRETT
RINGO STARR has brushed off the Vatican newspaper’s praise of the Beatles on the 40th anniversary of the band’s break-up.
In a column in L’Osservatore Romano Giuseppe Fiorentino and Gaetano Vallini wrote that the value of the Beatles’ “musical inheritance” is “inestimable” and paid tribute to their “magical creative alchemy”. But while they dismissed the band’s lifestyles, they called their music “a precious jewel”. But the 69-year-old drummer, who released his
15th solo album earlier this year, told CNN: “Didn’t the Vatican say we were satanic or possibly satanic – and they’ve still forgiven us?”
In a possible reference to the sex abuse scandals he added: “I think the Vatican, they’ve got more to talk about than the Beatles.”
DON’T MISS: MARY KENNY ANSWERS PHILIP PULLMAN PAGE 12