NEWS On 27 February 2015 the new Archbishop-elect of Malta, Mgr Charles J. Scicluna, promised to be himself and to listen before speaking. The Archbishop-elect was speaking at a press conference during which Pope Francis’ nomination for the Maltese Church’s next leader was made official. Mgr Scicluna will be replacing Mgr Paul Cremona, who resigned on 14 October for health reasons.
He will be installed as the new head of the Church in Malta in a ceremony to be held at the Mdina Cathedral on Saturday 21 March, Apostolic Nuncio Aldo Cavalli confirmed. “He will have three roles on the day: sanctifying the people to God, helping them to learn the truths of our faith and leading them on the path towards God.”
In his first words as the new leader of the Church in Malta, Mgr Scicluna said that he would like to be an example to everyone with his deeds and duties, in the hope that others will follow.
“I will need to listen to the diocese because if I do not I cannot expect to have the authority to speak. I cannot expect people to listen to me if I do not listen to them first.” The Archbishop-elect said he would be meeting different categories of people before his instalment.
“My vocation is to lay my life for my flock. The Lord asked Peter for his love – he told him to be a shepherd and that means to lead and to love.”
Mgr Scicluna said he will not be arrogant but a model for others to follow. “Comfort and forgiveness have to be the reality of our diocese. We should open our hearts to people who knock at our doors and come to our shores,” he said. “I want to pass on a message of hope and courage; we should not destroy what we have with the poison of fear and hatred”.
Mgr Scicluna then fielded questions from the press. Asked if he would be seeking a shake-up of the Curia administration, the new Archbishop said he does not exclude making changes to faces. “My sleep during the past few nights has not been so peaceful because I have been thinking hard about this. The Curia needs restructuring. This is part of the listening programme that I have to submit myself to.”
Mgr Scicluna said he will remain himself. “I am not alone in this and there were many people who approached me lately to express their concerns but also to show their support.”
The new leader of the Church in Malta said he was only told last Sunday about his appointment. “I felt a great sense of peace when I was told by the Nuncio, even if the nights after that were less peaceful.” The first to learn the news were his mother and father, with whom he lives and will continue to live after his appointment.
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca was the first to congratulate Mgr Scicluna for his appointment.
The Labour Party also congratulated Mgr Scicluna who, it said, has before him an important task. The PL also stressed on the importance of the separation of Church and state.
PN Leader Simon Busuttil said Mgr Scicluna speaks clearly and is not afraid to take a stand. He also understands the different methods of communication the Church needs to get its messages accross. “Mgr Scicluna has an important task of making the Church relevent for today’s society. On a personal basis he is an outgoing person who is capable of touching the hearts of everyone with intelligence, humility and simpathy.”
Born in Toronto, Canada, Mgr Scicluna went to Malta with his family in 1960 and they resided in Qormi. He was educated at St Aloysius College and the University of Malta from where he graduated as a lawyer and in theology. He was ordained a priest in 1986. In 1991 he also obtained a doctorate in Canon Law in Rome.
Between 1990 and 1995, he was defender of the bond and promoter of justice at Metropolitan Court of Malta, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Canon Law at the local Faculty of Theology and Vice-Rector of the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese. His pastoral activities included service at the parishes of St. Gregory the Great in Sliema and Transfiguration in Iklin. He served as chaplain to the local Convent of St. Catherine.
In 1995 he began his 17-year Vatican career first as Deputy Promoter of Justice at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and then as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was later to become pope.
As Promoter of Justice, he was credited with constructing the 2010 universal norms that extended the Church’s statutes of limitations on reporting cases of sexual abuse and expanded the category of ecclesial crimes to include sexual misconduct with a disabled adult and possession of child pornography.
On 6 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Scicluna as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Malta and Titular Bishop of San Leone. He was consecrated bishop on 24 November 2012 by Archbishop Paul Cremona, OP and served as his deputy until Mgr Cremona resigned in October 2014.
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