Watch: The pandemic will change us; how is up to us – the Archbishop

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

We will not be the same once the Covid-19 pandemic ends, but whether we will be better or worse depends on all of us, Archbishop Charles Scicluna maintained.

Mgr Scicluna was speaking to Fr Joe Borg in a Newsbook Q&A, in which he reflected on how the pandemic affected him as well as the Church.

Its impact was not wholly negative: one silver lining was the broadcasting of daily mass celebrated by Archbishop Scicluna or by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi, thus giving the bishops a greater presence in people’s homes. The broadcasts replaced actual masses, with churches having been constrained to close their doors for three months once the pandemic reached Malta.

“People have welcomed the opportunity to feel close to their bishops and to listen to their words, even if virtually,” he said.

But the closure of churches also proved to be a painful measure for those who lost their loved ones, as it denied them the opportunity to hold a funeral.

“When we could not celebrate a funeral, we realised how much people felt that loss,” the Archbishop maintained. “The ritual is far from an empty one; it gives comfort, it is priceless.”

The period was also a busy one, not least as the Church sought to organise First Holy Communion and Confirmation in a safe manner over the summer, before the cooling weather brought about an expected increase in Covid-19 cases.

On a more personal note, he acknowledged how the pandemic brought about a change in the pace of life. Mgr Scicluna lives with his elderly mother, and said that this reminded him of the need to be careful, particularly since he needed to meet with many people.

But the pandemic also reminded everyone “how vulnerable we are, how small we are; how we depend on many things and also depend on each other.”

Family was already in crisis before pandemic

When asked how the Church would change as a result of the pandemic, Mgr Scicluna emphasised that the Church was not the building but its community, and with this in mind, it was crucial to foster the development of families as the “church of the home.”

But this was no easy task, not least because families were already in crisis before the pandemic struck.

“You had families who struggled to meet, to share a meal together,” he observed. “Unfortunately, our society and families have been fragmented.”

“Covid will either break us apart further or bring us closer together.”

The Archbishop referred to Fratelli Tutti, the latest encyclical by Pope Francis in which he reflected on the pandemic and its impact, and highlighted that the Pope foresaw different possible outcomes.

“It depends on us,” Mgr Scicluna maintained. “We will not remain the same, but we can become better, or we can become worse.”