Archbishop Paul Cremona has politely turned down an official invitation to visit the illegal hamlet at Ramlet il-Qortin in Armier.
“Unfortunately in the dates indicated in the invitation, and not only, the Archbishop cannot join you because he has other engagements,” the Archbishop’s secretary Fr Mario Camilleri told Tarcisio Barbara-President of Armier Developments Ltd.
The invitation to the Archbishop came in the wake of a controversial pre-electoral deal between the Armier squatters and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi in which the latter promised not to demolish any beach room built before 1992.
In his letter the Archbishop expressed his appreciation for Barbara’s “sacrifice and commitment,” to ensure that mass is said every Saturday in the illegal hamlet.
Religious activities are organised on a regular basis in the boathouse village.
On 16 August mass was celebrated by the ex director of the philanthropic Dar tal-Providenza. Money collected during this mass was donated to charity. On the same day, an ‘aux flambeaux’ procession of the Madonna was held in the hamlet.
In May the local curia came out in defence of religious services held in the illegally developed Armier shantytown, because it “feels it is its mission to provide for the spiritual needs also of persons who may have had or may be accused of having problems with the law.”
“Liturgical pastoral ministry in any given setting in itself goes beyond the approval or disapproval of the behavior of the congregation or part of the congregation,” Charles Buttigieg, public relations officer of the Curia, told MaltaToday. “The Church feels it is its mission to provide for the spiritual needs also of persons who may have had or may be accused of having problems with the law.”
So far the Church, through its Environmental Commission, has never expressed itself on the illegal shantytown. But Prof. Victor Axiak, who chairs the commission, reiterated the commission’s belief “as citizens of a community, it is our duty to abide by the laws of the land and under no circumstances should we break such laws to suit our own perceived individual needs.”