Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna met residents who reside at the Peace Lab in Ħal Far, during a pastoral visit held on Tuesday 21st January 2020. Archbishop Scicluna was welcomed by Fr Dijonisju Mintoff who administers this centre.

Currently, 52 male asylum seekers reside at the Peace Lab. Most of them are from Mali, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Iran.

Message by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna

First of all, I would like to thank you for having me. I would like to thank Fr Dijonisju Mintoff for his hospitality, for his good heart. A round of applause for Fr Dijonisju!

Thank you for all those who had the opportunity to speak, who said some words.

Now we are going to go in two places so I can meet you directly, but I would like to say to everybody: feel welcome and I promise you I will do everything I can to make you feel welcome.

2,000 years ago there was a ship and it was shipwrecked on these islands. On it there were 276 people. The ship was destroyed, they had to swim ashore and the Maltese saw that there were 276 people in the cold, all wet, and they lit a fire for them. The head of the islands, the protos, his name was Publius, told them: ‘Come to my home in the countryside and stay here for three days’ – all 276 people!

One of them was called Paul. He was an apostle of Jesus Christ. The father of this head of the island was sick, he was going to die, and Paul came in, he prayed on the father of this man who was called Publius, and his father got well. And the people started saying: ‘How does he do this?’ And Paul told them: ‘It is through the power of Jesus Christ’. So what did the Maltese do? Everybody who was sick went to Paul, the shipwrecked, the apostle, and Paul healed each and every one. So at one moment all the sick people of Malta got well.

Paul spoke about Jesus. He stayed here for three months, then, when the weather was fine, there was a ship which had harboured in Malta and it took them to Italy. But the Bible does not tell us what Paul said. It tells us what he did. It tells us what the Maltese did. They saw people who were afraid, who were cold, who were wet, and they lit a fire. The head of the island does not speak, he does something – he welcomes them for three days in his home and they stay on the island for three months. Before they go away, the Maltese put everything they need on the ship.

They received these people with “unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2) and this is something we are very proud of. But we need to keep doing so also today. It is not easy, you understand it is not easy, but we need to keep doing so.

We have been doing so for thousands of years. We need to keep doing so with you guys and we also need to protect you when you go out to work every morning because you are contributing to our wealth, but we need to contribute to your well-being and that is how we will be able to live together.

This is my message to you. My message to you is a message of hope and we need to pray – whether to God, to Allah – we need to pray that we would have more people like Fr Dionisio. You can’t clone him but we need more people like you, to have the courage to be prophets. And of course we need to give a future to this place.

Fr Dionisio, when I see these men I ask myself, who will take care of them? Who will take care of these guys? But we need also young people because you also grow, we all do – we always have more candles on the cake every year – and so we need also young people to be able to help this Peace Lab.

So you should feel part of our family but you know it is not easy, it is not easy, but I am here to give hope and tell you: you are welcome. God bless you.

✠ Charles J. Scicluna
     Archbishop of Malta

(Source: Archdiocese of Malta)

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Progressive Catholic journalist, author and educator. Working on social justice, equality and Church renewal.