Sunday, November 17, 2013

Aggiornamento in Malta

Archbishop Michael Gonzi
In this archive article from The Tablet, one can see that Malta immediately started implementing (wrongly) the Second Vatican Council, whereas laity in other countries had already founded the FIUV in 1965. We all know the results ... as the Maltese saying goes: "Il-qattusa għaġġelija frieħ għomja tagħmel".

Some food for thought for us, as the new Pro Tridentina (Malta) Committee is gearing for the challenges ahead.


Your special correspondent, in reporting on the aggiornamento in Malta in THE TABLET of December 24th, 1966, took care to check his facts and was kind enough to offer practical suggestions. For this we are grateful. Unlike him, "Observer," in his letter in THE TABLET of January 7th, 1967, based his statements on " rumours " and " impressions " and declined to suggest remedies.

For the record, I have checked each of his examples and the following are my findings: 
(a) After his summer audience with Pope Paul, Archbishop Gonzi informed the college of parish priests, the cathedral chapter, and several other persons, among whom the undersigned, that the Pope, without being asked to, had asked him to continue in office.

(b) In 1966, Archbishop Gonzi lifted the ban on the Labour Party unilaterally in order to respond to the new climate of the conciliar Church. Earlier during the year, before the elections, the Labour press had been very emphatic about this climate and, at one stage, even commended the pre-election pastoral letter.

(c) The pastoral council is due to meet every month and not, as "Observer " stated, every quarter. The first two meetings were lively but, as was shown in the report circulated to the press, constructive. The archbishop explicitly asked members to put forward their frank views in a spirit of charity. During its January meeting it voted on the first, fifty-page draft of the Maltese pastoral plan.

(d) Contrary to what "Observer " stated, the new organisations are not the monopoly of a few individuals. The pastoral council has been criticised as being too big because of its fifty members (of whom twenty-six are laymen). The council of the Maltese sisters' conference is formed by representatives of each of the female religious institutes. Young priests have been appointed to new full-time offices to serve youth, labour, and to direct research and reorganisation.

(e) As regards the liturgy, Canon Houtart of FERES reported that he had found the people aware of its essentials when he personally surveyed the pastoral situation of Malta in 1958. Today, they flock to weekday Masses celebrated in Maltese, and join in congregational singing supervised by the liturgy commission. There are no hints of a movement for return to the Latin Mass in Malta.

(f) In the field of ecumenism, Archbishop Gonzi takes part or sends a representative to the major interconfessional services and meetings. Some time ago he invited the "high dignitary" mentioned by "Observer" for tea. The latter's feeling of isolation could be due to other reasons: few speak French in Malta, and few residents belong to his community.

(g) The Catholic press is being reviewed. Meanwhile it is absurd to state that one of the foremost Catholic papers mounted a campaign against the use of the clergyman suit by priests. There were letters in favour and against in most of the papers which found space for this particular issue.

(h) The PRS never formed or tried to form a conference for female religious. Like the Fathers Provincial, it is aware that this is the competence of the ordinary. In fact, Archbishop Gonzi, after consulting the Congregation of Religious, invited Fr. G. B. Andretta to launch the new conference. The PRS prepared the way by taking a census of female religious and by providing office facilities.

These and other "external changes" may not be enough, but they are a beginning. They must not be allowed to encourage a false sense of security and complacency. But they not only do not prove but actually challenge "Observer's" non sequitur that our heart is not in aggiornamento.  
Yours sincerely, 
65 Old Mint Street,
Valletta, Malta. 
(Director, PRS).

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