Watch: ‘Your money is cursed,’ Archbishop warns usurers

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna reserved strong words for usurers in his homily during Sunday Mass, insisting that had to answer to God for their actions.

The Archbishop was celebrating mass at the Madonna tal-Ħlas Sanctuary in Qormi when he reflected on the practice.

He recounted that the Book of Exodus warned those who lent money to the needy not to act like moneylenders in a passage that was one of the readings of the day, though he insisted that that word was too soft to describe usury.

“Lending is an act of mercy. But to demand an additional €100 when you lend €100 is theft; it is a sin that shouts out to the Lord,” Mgr Scicluna maintained.

The Archbishop observed that some may end up victims of usury because their business was going south or because of a gambling addiction, but in any case, he warned that it was a grave sin to charge more interest than was permitted: Maltese law sets a maximum annual interest rate of 8%.

“I warn you: you will have to answer to God for sending people to the precipice,” Mgr Scicluna said, looking straight at the camera and observing that some victims of usury ended their lives because of mounting debts.

“Jesus’ commandment is not an abstract and the word of your Bishop is clear: I warn that whoever practices usury and fattens their pockets by ruining others that their money is cursed, and that I curse it too.”

Jesus had ‘no papers in order’ during flight into Egypt

The Archbishop also reflected on another line from the same reading in the Book of Exodus – “do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt” – and recounted Jesus’ own flight into Egypt when he was an infant.

He observed that many spoke of foreigners in a disparaging manner – “perhaps not with hatred, but with certain irritation or intolerance, as though they are a burden.”

But he also pointed out that many Maltese had relatives who had gone overseas, and recalled that he had been the son of immigrants – he was born in Toronto, with his parents returning to Malta when he was an infant.

“Though I am ‘made in Canada’ I am still Maltese. But our experience was one of people who welcomed us,” Mgr Scicluna observed.

“You might tell me: ‘but you had your papers in order.’ This was not always the case. When the baby Jesus had to flee with his mother and father, he had no papers in order. He was a foreigner, and he was welcomed in Egypt.