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A journey in Mgr Charles Scicluna’s footsteps

Charles Scicluna being ordained a priest by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca in July 1986.

Charles Scicluna being ordained a priest by Archbishop Joseph Mercieca in July 1986.

Listening is the first mission of Malta’s new shepherd, Mgr Charles Scicluna, who was yesterday anointed Auxiliary Bishop. The man who constantly drops jokes about his short stature, stands tall on his mission to stamp out clerical sex abuse and Mgr Scicluna has in the past years become a shining light for victims with his unswerving determination and the Pope’s blessing to root out the evil weeds.

I’m not Harry Potter but I’d like to be like the Good Shepherd

Born on May 15, 1959, in Toronto, Canada to Maltese parents, Mgr Scicluna returned to the island when he was just an 11-month-old baby.

The family went to live in Qormi – where the young boy spent most of his childhood until he was 17, before moving to Lija – going to school at St Edward’s College and later to the University of Malta.

He continued his studies in Rome, graduating with a degree in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was ordained to priesthood in 1986 and quickly started climbing the holy rungs of success – he immediately caught the attention of his superiors who wanted him to remain in Rome. However, the Archbishop called him back to become defender of the bond at the Maltese ecclesiastical tribunal in marriage nullity cases and lecturer of canon law at the University.

During this time he served in the parishes of Attard, St Gregory’s in Sliema and Iklin. He also served as vice rector at the Major Seminary between 1994 and 1995.

In 1995 he eventually gave in to Rome’s insistent calls and accepted Pope John Paul II’s nomination as Substitute Promoter of Justice of the former Holy Office.

In 1996, he was chosen to be the third postulator pushing the cause for the eventual beatification of Dun Ġorġ Preca – founder of the Society for Christian Doctrine (MUSEUM), a feat he achieved five years later.

Around the year 2000 whispers started sweeping the Vatican’s corridors that he could be the successor to then Archbishop Joseph Mercieca, and his name kept cropping up among the favourites.

In 2002, Mgr Scicluna was appointed to investigate cases of sexual abuse made against Church members, where he worked alongside Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and then Pope Benedict XVI in the battle without boundaries against clerical paedophilia.

He embodied the line of zero tolerance of sexual abuse against minors, and placedspecial emphasis on the suffering of abuse victims. He has travelled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa the Americas and Australia, lecturing on child protection in the Church.

Mgr Scicluna held the role of Promoter of Justice of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to date, but a promotion according to Italian media had been on the cards for a while. What was unexpected was that he was being given a role outside the Roman Curia.

Reports soon started making the rounds that his appointment was an effort to sideline a vociferous voice in the Vatican but according to those close to the Vatican this was wide of the mark – Mgr Scicluna was simply the right man in the right place.

Not only that, but word has already started spreading that he is the Archbishop-in-waiting. When asked about this, Mgr Scicluna replied in his trademark animated way: “I don’t have the crystal ball and I’m not Harry Potter. I realise that people have great expectations but I hope that this will not turn into great frustration because I don’t have a magic wand... I’m not Harry Potter but I’d like to be like the Good Shepherd who guides us in love.”

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