People came “not for the singer, but for the song”
Archbishop Paul Cremona OP of Malta said the main protagonists in the story of the Papal visit had been the Maltese people who had come out to greet him in such large numbers. He said the Pope’s visit was a call to the faithful to give witness to their faith and evangelise by incarnating what they believe in “then give it to society at large and that does not depend on the Church as an institution”.
He said: “The Church has to give guidance but it depends, and this is what the Pope said, on every person who accepts this as the Good News. We have to give it from person to person.”
Meanwhile the Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech said God had spoken on Sunday because of all the people who had come out to welcome the Pope. Bishop Grech was surprised by the size of the turnout, which he said showed that there was an inner call to each person.
He said: “There is a spiritual thirst, which unfortunately we are not only turning a deaf ear to God but even in this humanistic society, unfortunately we are turning a deaf ear to our people. Yesterday as well I was hearing the echoing of St Paul’s preaching. St Paul who was sent by divine providence to remain here. He founded the Christian community. If we have to be responsible not only to God but also to our people we have to give heed to Paul who even today is preaching the Good News. But again I’m afraid that we have to do a very responsible exercise.”
Speaking about the direction of the Maltese Church in the wake of the Pope’s two day visit, Bishop Grech said: “I think that before we go forward we have to make a return back, we have to go to our Christian roots and then from that point we can go forward.”
The Archbishops’ Delegate for Social Communication– a Dominican who teaches at the Malta’s university who has been credited by some Maltese journalists with improving the Church’s media strategy–Fr Charles Tabone OP said that the people who had come out to greet the Pope had come despite the negative image, for the song and not the singer.
Fr Tabone, who was travelling with the Vatican’s spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, said: “I would like to forward to you a personal reflection. As you know the atmosphere that has been created by the media before the arrival of the Pope in Malta both internationally and locally particularly from certain quarters was not a favourable one. There were aspects of negativity. There were people were saying that this Pope is not a crowd puller like his predecessor and therefore the expectations media-wise were low. However to the surprise of everyone, it has been proven that people came out and if this was the atmosphereit was not for the singer this time but for the song. Our people came out not for the personality but for whom this personality represents. They came out for Christ.
“I had a chance to talk to our people and they were saying, ‘Yes, in the Pope, we see our Lord Jesus Christ. And welcoming the Pope we are welcoming our Lord Jesus Christ.’ I think if we were saying that this singer won’t pull the crowds and the crowds were present. Therefore the song this time pulled them. And we are very happy for that.”