Dominican priest Fr. Mark Montebello has spoken out for the first time since he was hit by a controversial media blackout, addressing an inauguration ceremony for a new monument to former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff in Castille Square.
Without ever mentioning him by name, Fr. Montebello toasted Mintoff’s efforts in combating poverty and providing free public education.
“The oppressors used poverty and ignorance as tools to suppress the public,” he said. “They built a mini heaven for themselves in this world and promised the little people that they will find a heaven in another life. They didn’t let the people realise that their lives, their souls and their land belong to them and them alone and that God didn’t create anyone so they could be trampled over by other people.”
“[Mintoff] was no Messiah coming down from Heaven, but rather a man of flesh and blood, with his own beliefs and his own shortcomings, who sometimes used to contradict himself like everyone does. Yet he was a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and who, against all odds, inspired and led others to ride the waves and aspire towards the prosperity of freedom.”
It is unknown whether Montebello’s intervention places him at odds with the Dominican Provincial’s recent warning to him that he will get defrocked if he publishes any articles and comments or gives interviews to the press before 2021. The threat came after Montebello published an article that was highly critical of the Church’s strategy in opposing the new IVF law.
The inauguration ceremony was also addressed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who said Malta is currently living Mintoff’s dream – that of a cosmopolitan country which embraces social changes and which has enough vacant jobs to cater for immigrants.
“Mintoff waged war against the greatest enemy of the Maltese people – the servile mentality which states Malta belongs to others. It wasn’t easy to convince people that Malta shouldn’t be a maritime base for others, and indeed some people still bow their head to other, more psychological, bases. We are channeling Mintoff’s spirit in our work, his restlessness for change, so we can build on what was most important for him.”