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‘Borg’s rejection would be an affront to Maltese, Catholics’

Mgr Charles Scicluna speaks out over campaign against nomination

Mgr Charles Scicluna has given Tonio Borg his full backing. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

Mgr Charles Scicluna has given Tonio Borg his full backing. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

It would be a “disaster” and an “affront” to Maltese and Catholics if European Commissioner-designate Tonio Borg is tomorrow rejected by EU parliamentarians, according to Mgr Charles Scicluna.

Instead of ‘philosophy of life’ you can read ‘because you’re Catholic’

Dr Borg’s nomination hangs in the balance with Green and Liberal MEP groupings having already taken a stand against him being appointed Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner.

His nomination will be secured if the Socialist group decide to officially back him later on today. If not, he will have to wait until tomorrow’s parliamentary vote to know his fate.

Speaking yesterday, Mgr Scicluna – who on Saturday will be ordained Malta’s Auxiliary Bishop – gave the avowedly Catholic Dr Borg his full backing.

Rejecting Dr Borg would be a disavowal of the EU’s own values, he said. “Europe, which is based on unity in diversity, would have given in to intolerance.”

He took exception to Green MEPs saying Dr Borg’s “philosophy of life” was a problem. “Instead of ‘philosophy of life’ you can read ‘because you’re Catholic’. Because that’s what I believe they meant, and that’s the way many others have interpreted it,” he said when contacted.

In an earlier TV appearance, Mgr Scicluna had rhetorically asked what MEPs would do if a Muslim commissioner were to be nominated. But wouldn’t the Maltese be among the first to protest a Muslim nominee?

“I don’t think so. We’ve changed a lot, as a people. And I think this experience is beneficial to us, because by placing us in a minority position, it will help us respect other minorities more,” Mgr Scicluna said.

The former Vatican Promoter of Justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – who spearheaded the battle against clerical paedophilia – was appointed by the Pope to help Archbishop Paul Cremona run the Maltese diocese.

Despite denials by Mgr Scicluna in several interviews already, some commentators are still questioning whether he has been sidelined by the Vatican for having done his job a little too well.

The topic resurfaced again in an interview published in the Seattle Times, in which he laughed off the suggestion, saying “if you want to silence someone, you don’t make him a bishop”.

In the interview, Mgr Scicluna hinted that the Vatican had yet to adequately discipline bishops guilty of having covered up sexual abuse.

“People make mistakes. They need to repent and change their ways. But if they are not able to repent and change their ways, they should not be bishops,” he said.

Now back in Malta, Mgr Scicluna will as of Monday begin a new life, working alongside Mgr Cremona in the day-to-day running of the local diocese.

“Meeting with the communities from which my faith first sprung has been a beautiful experience,” he said.

“And as of Saturday, when I am ordained, I will belong to everyone.”

He has already been taking part in the life of the Curia, preparing himself for the role. And after 17 years working within Vatican walls, he is happy to have returned. “I’m delighted with the environment I’ve found. I feel at home.”

Celebrations to mark his ordination start today with a meeting with children at 5.30pm at St Sebastian parish in Qormi, followed by Mass at 6.30pm.

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