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MALTATODAY 3 April 2022

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 APRIL 2022 NEWS MATTHEW AGIUS POPE Francis expressed hope that Malta remains strong in its commitment to eliminate ille- gality and corruption, likening this commitment to the "north wind that sweeps the coasts of this country." The Pontiff was speaking dur- ing his meeting with the au- thorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps at the Grand Master's Palace in Valletta, his first speaking engagement of his whirlwind visit. Urging unity, the Pope made reference to Malta's national anthem, which is a prayer writ- ten by Dun Karm Psaila. Citing a verse from L-Innu Malti, he said: "'Grant, Almighty God, wis- dom to those who govern, strength to those who work, affirm unity among the Maltese people, and peace.' "Peace follows unity and rises up from it. This reminds us of the importance of working to- gether, of preferring cohesion to division, and of strengthen- ing the shared roots and values that have forged Maltese socie- ty in its uniqueness." The Pope did not shy away from addressing Malta's cor- ruption problems in his speech, opting instead to tackle it head- on. "To ensure a sound social coexistence, however, it is not enough to strengthen the sense of belonging; there is a need to shore up the foundations of life in society, which rests on law and legality. Honesty, justice, a sense of duty and transparen- cy are the essential pillars of a mature civil society," said the Pope. "May your commitment to eliminate illegality and corrup- tion be strong, like the north wind that sweeps the coasts of this country. May you always cultivate legality and trans- parency, which will enable the eradication of corruption and criminality, neither of which acts openly and in broad day- light." He warned Malta against los- ing touch with its roots as it de- velops into a European country. "This European country, espe- cially in its young people, shares western lifestyles and thinking. This brings great benefits – I think of the values of freedom and of democracy – but also risks, which call for vigilance lest the desire for progress be accompanied by detachment from your own roots." Describing Malta as "a splen- did laboratory of organic devel- opment," Francis pointed out that progress "does not mean cutting one's roots with the past in the name of a false prosper- ity dictated by profit, by needs created by consumerism, to say nothing of the right to have any and every 'right'." The basis of all solid growth is respect for the human person, respect for the life and dignity of every man and every woman, said the Holy Father, before, in one sentence diplomatically addressing the abortion debate, exploitation of migrants and the abuse of the elderly. "I am aware of the commit- ment of the Maltese people to embracing and protecting life. Already in the Acts of the Apostles, the people of this is- land were known for saving many lives. I encourage you to continue to defend life from its beginning to its natural end, but also to protect it at every moment from being cast aside and deprived of care and con- cern. I think especially of the rightful dignity of workers, the elderly and sick." He urged the young to be vig- ilant against the threats of rad- ical consumerism, indifference to others and drug abuse. "And of those young people who risk squandering all the good they have within them by following mirages that leave only empti- ness in their wake. These are the fruits of radical consumer- ism, indifference to the needs of others and the scourge of drugs, which suppresses free- dom and creates dependence. Let us protect the beauty of life!" Moving on to the migration issue, a central theme of the Pope's visit, Pope Frances ar- gued that if the complexity of the migration issue is to be properly addressed, it "needs to be situated within a broader context of time and space" and not by isolating ourselves from those in need. "Time, in the sense that the migration phenomenon is not a temporary situation, but a sign of our times. It brings with it the burden of past injustice, exploitation, climatic chang- es and tragic conflicts, whose effects are now making them- selves felt. From the poor and densely populated south, great numbers of people are moving to the wealthy north: this is a fact, and it cannot be ignored by adopting an anachronistic isolationism, which will not produce prosperity and inte- gration. "From the standpoint of space, the growing migration emergency – here we can think of the refugees from war-torn Ukraine – calls for a broad- based and shared response. 'Do not allow the dream of peace to fade' – Pope Francis urges end to war and open corruption, urges vigilance against radical consumerism 'Honesty, justice, sense of duty essential pillars of a mature PHOTOGRAPHY JAMES BIANCHI

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