Mistoqsija li diġà għamilt u nerġa’ nagħmel. Kif għandha titqies il-Knisja Kattolika f’Malta tal-lum?

Bħala istituzzjoni ewlenija tal-pajjiż?

Jew bħala għaqda mhux governattiva (NGO) li qiegħda fejn qiegħda biex twassal l-ideat tagħha?

It-twemmin tagħha dwar il-post tal-bniedem fl-univers u dwar il-valuri li għandhom jiggwidaw l-imġiba tan-nies huma mħaddna minn maġġoranza (forsi relattiva) tal-poplu. B’hekk għandha profil aqwa minn ta’ NGO. Kif titkellem il-kostituzzjoni dwar ir-reliġjon tal-pajjiż isaħħaħ dal-profil.

Min-naħa l-oħra, ir-rabta qadima tagħha ma’ ċertu tip ta’ poter statali u l-mod kif baqgħet tħares l-interessi materjali tagħha akkost ta’ kollox, tellfuha ħafna mil-leġittimità.

Biex tagħqad, id-direzzjoni tagħha donnha saret wisq opportunista. L-organizzazzjoni baqgħet dgħajfa, pjuttost imħarbta. L-istqarrijiet ta’ pożizzjoni jitbandlu mal-kurrenti politiċi għaddejja, donnhom jintgħażlu skont kemm l-aktar jistgħu jilħqu prominenza fl-aħbarijiet tal-jum.

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IĊ-ĊIVIL

Matul is-snin iċ-ċivil żviluppa skont l-esiġenzi ġodda ta’ bidla soċjali u ekonomika li qamu. F’ħafna każi, baqa’ lura milli jilħaq l-istess rankatura ta’ bidla li kienet għaddejja madwaru.

Ħafna jsemmu l-politiċizzazzjoni li skont huma nfettat liċ-ċivil bħala l-problema ewlenija. Qishom jifhmu li fiż-żmien kolonjali, iċ-ċivil kien l-aktar effettiv għax kien apolitiku. Dwar kemm tassew kien apolitiku ċ-ċivil taħt il-kolonjaliżmu għandi dubji kbar. Għalkemm minnu ħarġu amministraturi kbar u siewja għall-pajjiż, kien imfassal għal kondizzjonijiet li kienu mistennija jibqgħu ċassi.

Hi ħaġa naturali li mexxejja politiċi minn deċennju għal deċennju kellhom jaraw kif jiżguraw li min qed jamministra “taħthom” juri lealtà lejn il-gvern tal-ġurnata u l-politika tiegħu.

Mhux l-hekk imsejħa politiċiżżazzjoni li toħloq problemi, daqskemm in-nuqqas ta’ rispett minn politiċi lejn l-apparat amministrattiv li jeħtieġlu jimxi skont il-loġika tiegħu. Leali kemm huma leali, d-diriġenti maħtura biex jikkontrollaw dan l-apparat, iridu jkunu jaf wkoll kif se jħaddmuh.

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ALFRED ZARB

Kien ili nafu mal-ħamsin sena, wieħed mill-ewwel nies li ltqajt magħhom fl-uffiċċju tal-affarijiet barranin meta wasalt hemm bħala uffiċjal ġdid. Spjegali kif isir ix-xogħol u min hu min, b’leħen kalm u ċajtier.

Matul is-snin bqajt nammira l-istil tiegħu u aktar u aktar il-ħila li kellu biex jifhem sitwazzjoni diplomatika mil-lenti Maltija. Rajtu f’diversi okkażjonijiet delikati jġib ruħu b’mod eżemplari. Kien leali lejn il-gvernijiet tal-ġurnata u jikseb malajr il-fiduċja tagħhom. Imma dak li għandu jgħid, xorta jleħħnu bla tlaqliq.

Laħaq il-quċċata tal-karriera diplomatika wara li beda minn “isfel” – ħaġa li swietlu wkoll biex iġemma esperjenza vasta li kien lest juża b’ġenerożità.

Sogħobbieni ħafna insir naf bil-mewt tiegħu. Kondoljanzi profondi lill-familja tal-ambaxxatur Alfred Zarb.

English Version – NGO?

I’ve already raised the question before, but it bears repeating. How should the Catholic Church in today’s Malta be considered?

As a leading institution in the island?

Or as a non-governmental organization which exists to propagate its ideas?

The Church’s beliefs about man’s place in the universe and about the values that should guide human behaviour are shared by the majority (arguably a relative one) of the population. So its profile is clearly much more than that of an NGO. The reference in the constitution to the country’s religion reinforces such a profile.

On the other hand, its longstanding closeness to a certain kind of state power and the way by which it has sought to defend its material interests at all costs, have undermined much of its legitimacy.

To complicate matters, its current direction seems to have become too opportunistic in approach. Meanwhile its organization has remained weak, rather confused. Position statements are made that swing with ongoing political currents, as if they get chosen according to whether they can best gain prominence in the headlines of the day.

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Civil service

Over the years, the civil service has developed according to the new imperatives set by ongoing social and economic changes. In many instances, it failed however to achieve the same rate of change as that occurring around it.

Many present the politicisation that in their view has infected the civil service as the leading problem. It looks like they believe that in colonial times the civil service was more effective because it stayed apolitical. For myself, I have huge doubts about whether the colonial civil service was so apolitical then. Though it did generate very able administrators who did great service to the island, it was designed for conditions that were expected not to change.

Naturally, from decade to decade, political leaders sought to ensure that administrators acting “under” their purview would be loyal to the government of the day and its policies.

It’s not this so-called politicisation which creates problems, as much as the lack of respect shown by politicians towards the administrative machine which necessarily functions according to its own logic. No matter how loyal they are, the directors appointed to run the machine must also know how to make it run.

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Alfred Zarb

I must have known him for the past fifty years. He was one of the first persons I met at the foreign affairs office when I arrived there as a rookie diplomat. He explained how the work was carried out and who was who, in his calm, teasing voice.

Years passed and I still continued to admire his style, as well as – indeed more – the skill he possessed to understand a diplomatic situation from the Maltese perspective. Many times when faced with delicate situations, I saw him perform astutely. He was loyal to the governments of the day and soon gained their confidence. Nonetheless, he still said what he had to say without hesitation.

He reached the top of the diplomatic career by coming up from deep down the ranks, which enabled him to benefit from a vast fund of experience that he was always prepared to draw upon most generously.

The news of his death was deeply saddening. I send my profound condolences to the family of Ambassador Alfred Zarb.