Bridging faiths and lives

 

Q. You have written a wonderful book: Ero straniero e mi avete ospitato on the welcome of strangers and emigrants. We in Malta have a problem, considering the limitations of our Island. The arrival of many foreigners is not always taken in the right spirit. A Catholic Island, which had welcomed St. Paul, in the immediate future, may create racism.

A. If you do not want an inconvenience to be transformed into intolerance and racism, we have first to exam the type of accoglienza (welcome) we give, which is different from mere emergency aid or political asylum. Is it ethically correct to welcome someone without being able to give him home, bread and clothes? Humanly is it acceptable not to guarantee the vital need for an existence with dignity? These are questions which raise the problem of the consciousness of the limits that exist in the accoglienza. A mature civil society, will watch out that these limitations are not dictated by egoism of those who close themselves in their comfort, but only on those imposed by a real willingness to fare spazio (make room) for the others. In this the Christians can offer a very precious contribution of discernment and genuine disinterested care to the stranger who may hide the face of Christ.

Q. Notwithstanding the commitment of the Cana Movement and other agencies, for marriage preparation and marriage counseling, many of our marriage are in crisis or in difficulty. The Maltese society is in evolution, do you feel that the value of marriage may change?

A. I do not know the Maltese situation, but the problem is common in the Western World. The Challenge for Christians is to re-discover and render more credible the commitment in which a couple has to communicate: marriage is a sacrament, that is a sign of faithful love of God for humanity and the Church, and the family is the privileged space for the transmission of the faith and for its incarnation in daily living. These are values which should not diminish.

Q. Some seminarians and priests, including the Bishop of Gozo, have already been to Bose. What do you suggest so as to increase the ties between Malta and your community?

A. Our community is happy with these first contacts and I hope that my coming to Malta will help to strengthen the fraternal links which are founded in the New Testament and in the evangelical mission of St. Paul.