Malta’s unintentionally hilarious habits are what make it such a fun place to live in, but there’s something about children pulling a priest through the streets in an open-topped Porsche Boxster that’s almost too puzzling to laugh at… almost.
If you’re looking for context, there’s not much more to add that’ll help clarify the situation. All we can do is give a SparkNotes summary of what happened, and let it speak for itself:
A Gozitan archpriest watched Ben Hur one too many times, so he rolled up to his inauguration ceremony in an open-topped sports car that was pulled by a long line of giggling children.
The reason the clip irked so many is not that it contained video evidence of child abuse (as some have boldly claimed online); most of the kids were clearly loving it. The issue is more to do with the fact that the compromise between what a kid finds fun and what an adult finds acceptable probably shouldn’t result in a scene straight out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
When watching videos like these, it’s hard to imagine how nobody called out the peaking levels of crazy at any stage during the original, junior-RMF conception meeting… or while the team was shopping for a 20m long rope… or when they were selecting the kids to pull said rope.
If all other stages slipped past, one still holds out hope that someone would question the whole scenario as they tied the rope to the bonnet of a Porsche with a priest standing in it, handed it over to a bunch of children and shouted ‘giddy up’, Old Western style.
“Maybe kids tugging a Catholic priest is usually the image we try steer clear of”? – what a PR strategist would probably have said.
And while the majority of people who read about the event were put off by Gozo’s budget Prince of Egypt remake, a vocal number of online commenters were quick to defend it vehemently, using Malta’s most popular retort: “it’s a tradition” (usually followed by some iteration of “live and let live”).
Look; making children born on Christmas Day stay up all night counting rice so they don’t turn into a Maltese monster was also traditional once; sometimes it’s OK to let things go.
But where do we draw the line?
Fr John Sultana doubles down via deep pan as he laughs off critics with “a new speciality from Żebbuġ, Pizza Porsche”.
We’re not sure their legal team would approve of that brand endorsement.
If you don’t agree that this “tradition” (not that I recall reading any sports-car-towing stories in St Paul’s letters to Malta) shouldn’t be happening in the 21st century, at least acknowledge some of the reasoning behind the backlash.
Most of it was not because the internet wants to be a killjoy for the sake of it. In a world that’s constantly hoping to see more humility from a religious organisation known to be a little too over the top in its extravagance, you can understand why people weren’t thrilled to see a five-figure car being towed by innocent children, just to kick off a religious ceremony in style.
And even if you don’t agree that it was OTT, once you’ve racked up enough experience to be promoted to archpriest, you should be able to handle criticism a little better than by dismissing the concerns of the public and devouring a defiant Porsche-shaped pizza.