Mickey Malta

Notes from the zone where 'normal' things don't happen very often

Posts Tagged ‘Europe

Bring on the troglonecks

leave a comment »

The only means of transport used by our European cousins to come and visit us. We are nothing but circus monkeys.

The only means of transport used by our European cousins to come and visit us. We are nothing but circus monkeys.

Two different reports published in yesterday’s The Malta Independent on Sunday confirmed to me that this place is truly stuck in a time warp. Worse still, it emerges clearly in a back page report that some of our European cousins see us as troglonecks – a monstrous hybrid between a troglodyte and a redneck.

In the Religion section, TMIS reproduced an interview that euronews carried out with one of the leading theologians of all time, Hans Küng (http://www.euronews.net/2009/04/07/kueng-catholicism-heading-back-to-middle-ages). Unsurprisingly, Küng makes a number of interesting observations, but one point that was discussed during this interview is worth singling out.

During the interview, Küng explained how the Catholic Church is steering away from Vatican Concil II and is heading back to the middle ages. The reason he gives is that “the Catholic Church is once again taking a course towards reaction, anti-modernism, and the Middle Ages”. Doesn’t this sound like an accurate summary of our Bishops’ sermons?

However, what struck me most is the fact that the same church he is criticising as being on a journey back to the Middle Ages is far more avant-garde than the Church here on the Rock. This means that we’re far worse than the Medieval Vatican.

The following Q&A explains why:

Since the second Vatican council, the Catholic church has accepted, to put it simply, a separation between church and state. That’s not always the case in Islam. Does that pose a problem?

The Catholic church didn’t accept the idea of human rights and tolerance, in a positive way, right up to the era of Pope John the 23rd and the second Vatican council. The Catholic church needed an enormous amount of time to get there. So we need to understand that Muslims too need plenty of time. But today, there are positive signs regarding the separation of church and state – in Turkey for example. It’s vital that Islam finds a new model to redefine the relationship between religion on the one hand, and the state on the other.

While the Catholic Church seems to have generally accepted the separation of powers, the Bishops here still choose to put pressure on the State publicly even on trivial issues like the Nadur Carnival. Worse still, the State dances to this tune and takes action as prompted by the men in the frock.

This brings me to my second point. Take a look at this report:

Swedish foreign trade minister Ewa Björling has had what she calls a very unusual and positive response during her visit to Malta – discussing not only the expected question of commerce and patents and Sweden’s coming European Union presidency, but also the question of AIDS and condoms – otherwise rather taboo subjects in that Catholic island nation with close ties to a anti-condom Vatican, Radio Sweden reported last week.

The Swedish minister is a professor of virology and has long worked with AIDS – and admits she was determined to bring this up with Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi.

Prof. Björling said that, to her surprise, an at-first surprised prime minister agreed with her that condoms and safe sex campaigns in Africa are essential to save lives, and that only healthy people can carry out business and international trade.

The Swedish minister added that when she travels to places like Africa, she always has condoms in her luggage, which she hands out even to Catholic clergy – even if they become angry and annoyed – and concluded that she will continue with this kind of international diplomacy.(http://www.independent.com.mt/news.asp?newsitemid=86532)

Admittedly, it is unusual – if not inappropriate – for a Foreign Trade Minister to talk about condoms with the Prime Minister of a country (although this is technically a county, and that makes the PM technically a Mayor). No wonder that the Prime Minister was surprised.  Yet, the message is that we are seen as such a backward country that follows the Vatican blindly, that this person felt the need to bring the subject up out of a genuine concern.

The key point here is that Ms Björling was surprised to see that Dr Gonzi actually disagreed with the Vatican. Wow. She was actually expecting the PM to give her a lecture about the ills and evils of condoms. To me, this proves that we are perceived as Vatican lackeys and that we are seen to be closer to the Vatican State than to the EU. Maybe now you can understand why I will not bother to vote for any candidate in the EP elections. This is also a wake-up call for the main party loyalists who think that all other countries look at our MEPs in awe when they deliver their (irrelevant) speeches in the EP. The truth is . . . . they look down on us.

And why is this so? Well, for a starter we’re the only EU country to deny divorce to its citizens; Stitching is banned on religious grounds; our Social Policy Minister runs to the Holy See to discuss ethical issues, abortion is a taboo -even in cases where the mother’s health may be at risk because of pregnancy .  .  .  . shall I go on? I can keep writing an endless list till sunset. The reality is that we do not embrace the European values of civil liberties.

In the grand scheme of things, we are nothing but circus monkeys where people from the big land entertain themselves by looking at us in our small cage. They must be really entertained by our strange acts and unusual behaviour, and when they hand out bananas and peanuts to us, they make us feel needed and important. How we fail to see the bigger picture beats me beyond recovery.

While most of us look at Turkey as a third world country, Hans Küng cited this beautiful place as an example of how things are changing in the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the smiling Bishop over here keeps warning his congregation (which incidentally involves most, if not all, Parliamentarians) about the ills of secularism.

No wonder that our European cousins see us as a freaky monster, a fusion between a troglodyte and a redneck. How can you blame them?


Written by mickeymalta

20/04/2009 at 10:52