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MT 19 October 2014

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2014 Opinion 18 T he only reason that I will raise concern about the relevance of the Church now is because it is NEWS that an Archbishop asks to be replaced and is replaced. It will not change our lives in any massive way, whether the Archbishop is an outsider or the new appointee is Scicluna or Grech. However there are people who sincerely wish for a more vibrant and representative Church. There are five kinds of people in Malta when it comes to the Church. The first type, are those that feel that their relationship with the Church is because they attend Sunday mass every week. The other segment are those who are engaged or disengaged with the Church and are regulars for most of the functions and participate in all the activities and front the teachings of the Church, then there are those who resort to the Church occasionally (baptism, holy communion, marriage and funerary arrangements) and those albeit small in number who disown the Church by making it known that they are atheists or agnostics. Finally a fifth category of individuals who say they are spiritual but shun the Roman Catholic Church and feel more comfortable in another Church. For the last three years, the local media have been aware of Archbishop Cremona's illness. Probably related to a depression or something of the sort. It was vehemently denied by the Archbishop's office over and over again. It was of course a lie and the truth is that we knew that they were lying but simply accepted their version. There is still some reverence for the Church even though there is less respect for its authority. Thankfully the weak leadership or better still the absent leadership of Archbishop Cremona was perhaps the main reason for the successful campaign for the introduction of divorce and the gender issue. The Church was headless and the campaigners took complete advantage of the situation and ran a campaign with little or no opposition. In our daily life, the inf luence of the Church has become more limited. Not only has it lost its authority, but it appears to have lost most of its inf luence over the way people interpret morality and Church dogma. The Church failure to understand and live with the sexual revolution, the rise of gender equality, gay issues and third sex has left the Church hollow. The history of paedophilia in the local Church has rendered the Church toothless and not credible. Its inability to control the excesses of festas and fireworks has rendered it ineffectual. On the other hand, the Church still serves as a beacon of hope for many Maltese and Gozitan communities, and singular members are heroes in their own way, battling for the underprivileged and the marginalised. The Church in Malta is also custodian to a great patrimony, both 'moral' and historical. Not all is bad. In my upbringing I cannot deny that many of my values were moulded because of the Church. Many core values in this country of ours have been built around the Church. Perhaps the departure of Cremona may instil new life into the Church and revive interest in those who have relegated the Church to the past. And this has to be seen in the new invigorated image the Church has acquired under Pope Francis. Many are optimistic that things will change. I am not too sure. There was of course the formal complaint by the European Commission against the Maltese government for having reopened finch trapping. This was ignored by the government. According to the government the Commission has interpreted the directive wrongly. I love it when Joseph Muscat takes on the European Commission. He knows he is wrong but wants to appear his macho self with the hunting lobby. A clever move from a man with approximately zero empathy for the environment. Finch trapping was originally given the green light by the Ornis Committee, an irrelevant committee that finds methods of trying to justify its decisions by presenting some very dubious scientific reports. Most of the time the committee has served as a rubber stamp for the government of the day. When the committee does not fall in line with the Prime Minister's way of thinking, the PM wakes up and decides to take his own unilateral decisions. Such as was the case with the banning of hunting from late September to October 10. It was a bloody good decision but one that earned him some harsh criticism from the politically appointed Ornis chairman, Mark Anthony Falzon. But please do not be too impressed: Falzon should not be taken too seriously. When asked for a comment by MaltaToday, the public official who is paid from the public purse refused to give comments to MaltaToday. Instead he expresses his opinion as Ornis chairman in his column in The Sunday Times. There is no love lost between me and Falzon, he looks and sounds and acts like some pompous scientist who thinks he knows it all when really and truly he does not. Worst of all he knows that hunters kill protected birds but he wants to find an anthropological angle to their awful and hideous behaviour. If Mark Anthony Falzon really thinks that his position as chairman has been rendered ineffective by Muscat's actions then he should do the honourable thing and resign. He would do himself, and wildlife in Malta, a favour. The government has an awful track record in wildlife conservation, and to give the impression that it really cares it appoints certain people to positions to give the impression that objectivity is the name of the game. If Muscat really cared he would appreciate that finch trapping was not possible in 2014 because that is what the treaty said, and he would also put a value to the extensive destruction that trappers cause to the Maltese countryside with their massive trapping sites. Apart from the illegal trapping sites found on public and private land. In all his wisdom anthropologist Falzon ignores this very serious problem. But Falzon is not alone. This week Leo Brincat, technically Falzon's minister, said that the United Nations should do more to protect biodiversity. Someone should really tell Brincat to shut up. If there is a country that needs to show some care about biodiversity it is Malta. But then I am not even quite sure Brincat knows what biodiversity is all about. And I cannot understand how measures to extend hunting and re-open finch trapping can help biodiversity. I guess if we have not discovered the answer here in Malta, we can always direct our questions to our new super hero in Brussels, the one and only, Mr Nice Guy! Guy, by the way, is Karmenu Vella, who I am sure has not quite realised what a hot potato he has landed himself in. How relevant is relevant? Saviour Balzan @saviourbalzan For the last three years, the local media have been aware of Archbishop Cremona's illness. Probably related to a depression or something of the sort. It was vehemently denied by the Archbishop's office over and over again FIMBank p.l.c. is a licensed credit institution regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority and listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. The Bank is a participant in the Depositor Compensation Scheme in Malta. 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