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Will the secularists pass the test?

November 13, fortunately not a Friday, is being mooted as the T-Day for Tonio Borg, Malta’s nominee for the post of Commissioner of the European Union. He will be grilled by the appropriate EU Parliament committee; and grilled harshly he will probably be. It is the right of members to ask the question they feel like asking.

The anti-Christian lobby tries to portray its distaste for Christianity under pseudo-respectable garbs
- Fr Joe Borg

If a sense of fairness prevails, Tonio Borg is not to worry. He is intelligent and diplomatic enough to by-pass the traps that will be laid a plenty to ensnare him. There is no doubt that he is more than equipped to deal with the salvoes of loaded questions that will be fired in his direction. A hard grilling the man can indeed take.

However, in my opinion the real test will not be undertaken by Tonio Borg.

Those undergoing the real test are the members of the vociferous anti-Christian secularist lobby in the EU Parliament and the secularist NGOs which will be vigorously protesting outside the building. They are out for Borg’s blood not because he is Tonio Borg but because he espouses Christian values. It is the Christian ethos which is so much hated by the secularists that will be under attack.

Will the anti-Christian lobby prove, once more, that it is made up of intolerant bigots with a flair for fundamentalism? Its members do not put on burkas and are not strapped with ammo laden belts, but fundamentalists they are just the same. Their extremism is as despicable as the extremism on the far right.

The existence of this anti-Christian lobby probably explains why the EU has not heeded enough the appeal of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) to defend the rights of persecuted Christians throughout the world. “The total number of faithful who are discriminated against amounts already to 100 million. This makes Christians the most persecuted religious group,” said the bishops. Adding insult to injury, the secularists try to depict Christianity as the mother of all discriminations.

The manner of behaving of the anti-Christian lobby come November 13 will probably prove once more how right Pope Benedict XVI was when in his 2011 Message for the World Day of Peace decried persecution of Christians “in the West, and especially in Europe.” Benedict XVI’s list of examples included “denial of history and the rejection of religious symbols which reflect the identity and the culture of the majority of citizens” and the fostering of hatred and prejudice against Christians.

In his speech at Westminster, London in September 2010, the Pope lamented the marginalisation of Christianity in Western societies:

“There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such asChristmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.”

The Pope is not alone in expressing this concern. Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in March 2009 said that we are living in an age which is “aggressively secularist”.

The anti-Christian lobby tries to portray its distaste for Christianity under pseudo-respectable garbs. The killing of foetuses is described as a woman’s right. While allegedly rooting against discrimination, they discriminate against Christians in public roles by requiring them to act against their conscience.

As Benedict XVI’s said, the political stances of the anti-Christian lobby is inconsistent with a serene and balanced vision of pluralism and the secularity of institutions so well expressed in the concept of positive laïcité. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Benedict XVI had discussed this concept during a landmark meeting on September 2008.

On that day Sarkozy said: “The dialogue with religions is legitimate for democracy and respects the principle of laïcité.” He described the drive to deprive society of religion as a form of madness and an offence against culture and against thought. For him laïcité is positive when it is inclusive and when it engages in debates not exclusions.

On November 13, will the anti-Christian secularist lobby behave in the spirit of positive laïcité or in the spirit of fundamentalism? If the latter is their choice, they would have failed the test, not Tonio Borg.

•Today is my 62nd birthday. An attempt is being made to eradicate the memory of this event from collective consciousness. The forces of evil have been marshalled in this endeavour and the celebration of Halloween, just before my birthday, is the result. The election of the President of the US is the second part of the pincer attack.

Instead of sending flowers or other gifts you can send a donation to the Malta Today libel fund while perhaps giving them private lessons about how best to spell the word ‘truth’.

On my birthday, I resolve to stop dyeing my hair white; stop going to the gym everyday; discontinue the harsh diet I have been following these last couple of years and start getting terribly worried about what other people say about me. I am too young to bother about the Beatles’ preoccupation on turning 64 but old enough to proudly say, with The Voice, that I did it my way.

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