Her soul is marching on - Fr Joe Borg

The reverberations on the international level of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia go on unabated, probably more than they do on the national level. She is perhaps creating more waves now than when she was alive. Then she was just a Maltese journalist; now she is an international icon of investigative journalism and freedom of expression.

Many are now even making comparisons between Daphne’s assassination to that of the Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak. Both dedicated their lives to exposing the corrupt, and paid the ultimate price. On the other hand, in Slovakia, political leaders shouldered their political responsibi­lity and resigned, while the president called for new elections.

In Malta no one took political responsibility for the State’s inability to protect a journalist whose life was manifestly in great danger.

There are comparisons on the ecclesiastical front as well. Archbishop Stanislav Zvolensky, the Bishops Conference president, strongly condemned the assassination as an attack on freedom and democracy, urging Christians to stand together against “corruption, hatred, lies and fraud”.

“But if the murderer thought he was silencing people, he did the opposite. The great outrage over these deaths has brought people across Slovakia together and maximised the victims’ voice… An attack on a journalist is an attack on freedom and democracy, since journalists have a duty and noble privilege to act as guardians of these things.”

Last October, Archbishop Charles Scicluna showed his mettle and his pastoral leadership, saying words very similar to those uttered by Archbishop Zvolensky.

Last Thursday, Matthew, Daphne’s son, was invited by The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan caucus of the US House of Representatives, to address members of the US Congress and the media. His contribution will help keep the story alive in journalistic circles.

Last Friday the Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta hosted the launch of the Malta section of the Media Pluralism Monitor 2017 by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom at the European University Institute. The study noted shortcomings that need to be addressed both on the policy and practice level to improve conditions for media pluralism*.

The researchers observed that following Daphne’s assassination, things took a turn for the worse. They wrote of the chilling effect on freedom of expression and the increased risks faced by journalists. Like European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and many others, the report states that unless there is a final answer to the question of who ordered the killing of Daphne, this case will have a lasting effect on freedom of expression and media freedom.

Fortunately, a small but determined group strive on to further Daphne’s crusade for good governance

In Malta, on the other hand, the hate spewed by organised trolls on the internet is incredible. They attack like a feral beast, denuding themselves of any shred of humanity. Many others simply do not care. The contrast in the reaction between the international and the local level is chilling.

Fortunately, a small but determined group strive on to further Daphne’s crusade for good governance. One of their slogans plays on the words “minnha” (‘her’, i.e. Daphne) and “minna” (‘us/the group’): “Ma tistgħux teħilsu minnha għax ma tistgħux teħilsu minna.” (You cannot get rid of her because you cannot get rid of us.)

Through such protests Daphne’s spirit will keep marching on.

It has now been officially announced that St Paul, St Dominic, St Augustine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel will do their walkabout among the natives of Valletta on April 7.

This great piece of news has just been given by the big cheeses of V18, accompanied by their political masters and parish priests.

The first time I was told that this so-called “festa l-kbira” was being planned as part of the V18 celebrations I dismissed it as a sick joke that only a sucker would fall for.

But, by Jove, it is true that someone concocted this bizarre idea and managed to get all the necessary permits from Church and State after, it seems, the issues of precedence between the statues were resolved. This charade is irredeemably wrong, pastorally insane and completely offensive whichever way one looks at it. I was under the impression that Catholic theology considers Easter to be the “big feast”. Not any longer, it seems. V18 and the Valletta parish priests think that this travesty is “il-festa l-kbira”.

The phrase “nilgħabu bil-Knisja” has now reached unimaginable lows.

It is so sad that the Church has now decided to be part of this panis et circenses strategy. Or was it a case of eagerly wanting to board the gravy train?

The only silver lining is that according to the official press release, this is a one-off event. But one never knows. Perhaps there are pleasures still to come in store.

(* I was one of the many people interviewed for the study.)

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