Those Mediterranean crossings

There is a poster hanging in my living room of the poster for my (Unifaun’s) theatre production of the play LAMPEDUSA by Anders Lustgarten. It was produced in February 2016 at Spazju Kreattiv and features the following quote from the play:

“If those men in their offices knew what we were coming from, they’d know we will never, ever stop coming.”

It is a quotation that has stayed with me, and memory of it crops up every time someone brings up the subject. 

We are presently at the start of summer and the crossings over the Mediterranean are likely to be a feature in what promises to be a very hot season, marked by lovely calm waters and swimming expeditions. I have no problem in claiming that I am an atheist and that I have a certain dislike for all things connected to religion. And yet, it is the Pope and, locally, the bishops, who speak more sense on the issue. “Love thy neighbour as you love thyself.” These words, uttered by Christ, if followed to the letter by all Catholics, would indeed lead to a better world, a world where all humans live as one. 

“Love thy neighbour as you love thyself.” These words, uttered by Christ, if followed to the letter by all Catholics, would indeed lead to a better world, a world where all humans live as one. 

So where is the problem, I hear you say. The problem is that those who call themselves the most saintly and most religious are often the ones who sow hatred and repulsion to these sea crossers who come to Europe in search of a better future for themselves and their families. 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has said that defending migration was a misinterpretation of Gospels by priests and bishops “bewitched” by political and social issues. In Malta, these hideous words have not fallen on deaf ears and a growing number of so-called Maltese and Gozitan Catholics have accepted his words as the Gospel truth, renouncing what Pope Francis is saying on the issue, going as far as describing Francis as the anti-Pope. They would prefer to listen to a self-confessed, porn-loving, wanking priest who spouts hatred to migrants and love to Norman Lowell, than listen to what Francis says on the subject of migrants.

We had even more colourful racists, following a crossing tragedy in which hundreds of migrants drowned, saying that they would not eat fish that season for fear that they would catch Ebola. 

I try to explain to myself why this hatred for migrant, why this fear.  A British friend of mine once told me that the problem lies in the fact that Malta was blinded by Curia teachings for such a long time. As bold a statement as this is, it makes sense. Especially in the sixties, the Curia preached that we are under siege by the foreigners, that our Faith was being threatened. Don’t believe me? Look up the days of Mintoff’s Integration to Britain. The whole truth be told, the Church, especially in Malta, is currently on the forefront to correct this siege mentality but is it in time to do so? There is fear in Maltese people’s hearts, a fear that has been inherited through generations and one that is not that easy to erase. The Maltese are a territorial people, characterised by a fear of what is different and ready to pounce on the first foreigner who dares criticise this little rock of ours in any way.

But as Mobido in the play LAMPEDUSA says, if we knew what they were running from, we would know that the migrants would never stop coming. It is useless to just say that Malta is full up. They will still come. Yes, Europe should be doing more and Malta and Italy SHOULD expect more solidarity from the EU. To what expense? There is no clear cut answer but we need solutions . . .QUICKLY!

But hey, in the meantime, we all love Destiny Chukunyere, and upload videos of our daughters dancing to the JE ME CASSE ditty!

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