The Archbishop of Malta has urged the country’s politicians to exercise their authority “in the spirit of service to the wellbeing of society and the promotion of the common good”.
Driving the news
Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna was speaking in a homily Saturday at a Mass in Valletta to mark the 55th anniversary of Maltese independence.
The archbishop said the politician is like a steward “entrusted with the wellbeing of a household that is not his property to abuse at will”.
The public official “is a servant and is called to serve and not to be served”, Scicluna said.
“He is called to dedicate his life for the good of others and will shun any temptation to abuse his authority for personal gain, profit or advantage”.
Along with that spirit of service, detachment, freedom and humility, Scicluna said another important attribute of the politician worthy of the name is accountability.
“Accountability requires leadership to be open to public scrutiny and censure”, the archbishop explained.
“Accountability is the antidote to that sense of impunity that makes a mockery of leadership as service and of democracy as an expression of the rule of law”.
Scicluna continued by saying that “the steward leader, in a democracy worthy of the name, knows too well that he is accountable to the people he serves both politically and legally”.
“He will embrace politics as a service to the common good and will respect the fact that he is not above the law”.
The big picture
As for the significance of Saturday’s celebrations, Scicluna recalled that “Independence Day comes every year to challenge us Maltese citizens to develop a true sense of the state”.
Independence Day is a chance to shed the “sense of entitlement at the hand of a benevolent despot” that characterised Malta’s colonial past, Scicluna continued.
He added that citizens must move forward into the “very uncomfortable place” of sharing responsibility for the country’s future.
“We need to move from the passive quasi‑parasitic dependence on the State as the Big Brother of Orwellian fame to a proactive co‑ownership of the instruments of the State”.
Part of that means the “stewardship of the wellbeing of each member of society, especially those that are the weakest and most vulnerable”, Scicluna explained.
Why it matters
On the international stage, responsibility as citizens involves a “globalisation of stewardship that runs counter to the petty narrow-minded populist rhetoric that puts the interest of the individual states above the wellbeing of the human family”, the archbishop said.
“This globalisation of care should encourage us to play an active part on the international stage to promote a true sense of fraternity among nations,” he explained, in a reference to Europe’s refugee crisis.
“We are right in expecting that other European countries share the responsibility derived from the influx of migrants from the Southern Mediterranean shores that poses a disproportionate strain on our resources and territory, limited as they are”, Scicluna continued.
But he added that Malta “owes” it to the EU, the Commonwealth and other countries “that our instruments of state and sovereign status remain at the service of the rule of law, the full respect of human rights and the stewardship of the global community”.