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‘My real wish is to be a good listener’

Mgr Charles Scicluna with Pope Benedict XVI during the canonisation of San Ġorġ Preca in 2007.

Mgr Charles Scicluna with Pope Benedict XVI during the canonisation of San Ġorġ Preca in 2007.

Mgr Charles Scicluna pledged he would be a good listener, as the Vatican yesterday formally nominated him as Malta’s new Auxiliary Bishop.

Change will come through dialogue

“I want to bring this great hope to my home country I love so much. We have so much good which is worth preserving and promoting,” the 53-year-old Rome-based monsignor told The Sunday Times shortly after Pope Benedict XVI made his nomination official.

Mgr Scicluna’s Episcopal ordination will be held on November 24 and as Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Scicluna will be called to be the closest collaborator and adviser of Archbishop Paul Cremona with “leadership responsibilities in the Curia and in diocesan pastoral ministry,” a Malta Curia statement said.

He will assume the position vacated by the late Bishop Annetto Depasquale who passed away last November.

Many local Church insiders have interpreted his nomination as a clear step towards his eventual appointment as Malta’s next Archbishop, particularly since Archbishop Paul Cremona, 66, has experienced health problems in recent months.

However, he pointed out that unlike a coadjutor bishop, an auxiliary bishop does not come with any right or expectation to succession. Mgr Scicluna was reluctant to speculate about his future and instead spoke of his eagerness to return to Malta after 17 years serving at the Vatican.

“It’s a totally new experience. I’m eager to be with my people and be a bishop for them – which means giving your life for them.

“When we talk about a bishop in the Roman Catholic Church we think of the words of Jesus: giving his life for his flock. I’m privileged to be able to assist and learn from Archbishop Cremona who has a wonderful human touch.

“I look forward to learn from this extraordinary person but to also listen to the Maltese people and to share with them the great treasure of the faith St Paul gave us.”

Mgr Scicluna said he could inject the experience of the universal Church, when asked what his time in the higher echelons of the Church could contribute to a local Church which has received criticism from some quarters that it is not managing to communicate effectively.

He said the very nature of his Vatican job during the past years meant he could not just sit at his desk but had to travel the world and experience different churches.

“You also realise the great spiritual richness of the Maltese Church. You appreciate our values but also our limitations.”

What would he like to see changed in the Maltese Church?

“I will love the Maltese Church as I have always done and change will come through dialogue. My real wish is to be a good listener. When I live there I will gain the right to speak but before I speak I need to listen.”

He said the Church’s priority should always remain focused on evangelisation – to bring the Gospel as good news and proposing it as such.

In a statement yesterday, the Curia said Mgr Scicluna is well loved for his amiable personality and for his sense of fairness.

A life in prayer

1959: Born in Toronto, Canada.

1984: Graduated Doctor of Laws from the University of Malta in 1984.

1986: Ordained priest by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca.

1991: Graduated Doctor in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome.

1990-1995: Promoter of justice at the Metropolitan Court of Malta, Professor of Theology and Canon Law at the local Faculty of Theology and Vice-Rector of the Seminary.

1995 to date: Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. Mgr Scicluna is highly respected among his peers around the world for his lecturing skills and his expertise in child protection issues.

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