Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna lambasted the current economic model for exploiting vulnerable workers and the environment.
“In our pursuit of economic success, have we exploited those whom we have invited into our country to serve our basic needs and subjected them to intolerable conditions that are tantamount to slavery? Have we gone from being the colonised to the colonisers?”
“Yes, we are guilty of all these things. And we should feel ashamed,” Scicluna said during his homily on Independence Day.
Through his sermon, he addressed Malta’s exploitation of both humans and the environment as part of an unquenchable quest for money.
He discussed the island’s pursuit for rapid wealth, asking whether it has been placed above the country’s quality of life while “casting aside the worse off in our society in the process”.
Scicluna pointed out the meager minimum wage that can “barely get some through a week, never mind a month” and the “shameful” treatment of foreign workers on the island.
He further explained that while attention is placed on the growing poverty issue from time to time – “when confronted with certain statistics or when we contribute to a fundraising marathon” – this is not enough.
“The plight of the poor demands active listening; it demands action and it demands the compassionate focus of a loving heart.”
This plight, he stated, is evidently worsened by several systemic issues within our economy and political system.
Moreover, while calling for his listeners to reflect on the exploitation of foreign workers, he asked how comfortable we are with an “economy built on the exploitation of our natural environment?”. Or one that causes dozens of deaths and injuries due to cheap labour on construction sites?
These questions are difficult to answer, Scicluna admitted, however, the solution to these issues is “not to look away”.
The solution to an economy that sacrifices the health and rest of its workers starts by admitting that “no economic gain can ever justify embracing an economy that impoverishes and even kills other human beings.”
“An economic system that does not work in favour of everyone, that destroys the environment and that results in a diminished quality of life, requires restructuring, transformation, and renewal.”
“A transition from an economy that kills to an economy of life.”
He urged the authorities, experts, social partners, and civil society to forge a new economic model that works for the people, not against them. One that seeks to benefit everyone, rather than the wealth of a select few.
This homily comes amid a cost-of-living crisis, an oversaturation of developments, consistent environmental destruction, and local despair at the tragedies arising from an unregulated construction industry.
So, while celebrating Malta’s achievements as a relatively well-functioning British ex-protectorate, it’s important to consider all the factors that hold us back from evolving and improving.
Do you agree with Archbishop Scicluna’s Independence Day message?