Watch: “Immigrants are modern day slaves; we must treat them with dignity” – Archbishop

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna said that Malta’s cultural heritage ought to teach us to treat others with dignity, particularly immigrants who must suffer slavery until they once again regain their freedom.

Mgr Scicluna said this during a book launch on Thursday, at the Church of Our Lady of Liesse in Valletta. The book is titled Ta’ Liesse: Malta’s Waterfront Shrine for Mariners. It features the church itself, which was built in 1740.

Kurja – knisja.mt/ritratti

The Archbishop paralleled immigrants’ suffering to the legend pictured in the painting of Our Lady of Liesse. Three Christian knights were enslaved by a Muslim sultan, but refused to denounce their faith. Eventually, thanks to the portrait of Our Lady of Liesse, the sultan converted to Christianity.

The Archbishop explained how this parallels a journey from freedom, to slavery, and then the regaining of freedom once again. This is a journey that is also experienced by African immigrants who must abandon their homes to seek better lives in Europe. This is to simply end up enslaved once again, in a detention centre. Mgr Scicluna describes this experience to be traumatising and humiliating.

The Archbishop then recalled something he’d been told just last week, a story about a Livingston from Kenya, who is now aiding Fr Dijonisju Mintoff at the Peace Lab. Livingston had worked at a bar in Malta for two months, for which he had never been paid. Fr Mintoff accompanied him to the bar to demand reimbursement for Livingston, but the owner said that he had never seen Livingston before, and refused to pay him.

The Archbishop concluded by saying that we ought to treat each other with dignity, especially immigrants, whom he described as “modern day slaves”.

Ta’ Liesse: Malta’s Waterfront Shrine for Mariners

The book contains essays by Giovanni Bonello, Kenneth Cauchi, Roger De Gaetano, Carmen Depasquale, Nicholas Joseph Doublet, Eric Fenech Sevasta, Thomas Freller, Christian Mifsud, Amy Sciberras, Mevrick Spiteri and Theresa Vella. There are also over 370 photos taken by Daniel Cilia.

All sale proceeds go to restoring the church’s paintings.