Mgr Charles Scicluna ordained Auxiliary Bishop
Mgr Charles Scicluna this morning was ordained Malta’s new Auxiliary Bishop, succeeding the late Mgr Annetto Depasquale, who passed away last November.
As Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Scicluna will be Archbishop Paul Cremona's right hand man.
Until now, Mgr Scicluna had served at the Vatican as Head of the Congregation of the Faith, which deals with alleged clerical sexual abuse, among other things. He was renowned for his ‘zero-tolerance’ in these cases.
Last year, he personally came to Malta to listen to some of the witnesses in the cases against two former priests – Fr Charles Pulis and Fr Godwin Scerri – after the victims of the alleged abuse had complained that the Maltese Curia’s Response Team was taking too long to decide on these two cases.
Eventually, the Congregation decided to bar the two priests from serving as priests any more after it found out that the cases against them had been “founded”.
Hence his skills in dealing with delicate Vatican admistrative affairs will be an asset for Mgr Scicluna as he deals with the aftermath of the first definite judgment against two priests who are now serving time for five and six years respectively after being found guilty of sexual abuse against 8 minors at the St Joseph Home in Santa Venera run by the MSSP.
The ceremony began with the reading out of an official proclamation by Pope Benedict XVI followed by Mgr Cremona’s homily in which he thanked the Pope for sending Mgr Scicluna “with his talents and experience - to help me and the Church in Malta on its way towards holiness.
He explained how “today, our Lord is entrusting you with what is most precious to him, that is, the human being. Our dignity stems from this. It is a great honour and a sign of God’s great trust that God first chooses the Church and then some of its members and entrusts them with the care of human persons. This is what he is entrusting you with today.
Mgr Cremona added: “The fullness of the ministerial priesthood which you will be receiving in your Episcopal Ordination is the mission through which the Bishop helps the faithful to live their calling as Christians.
“This means that the Bishop’s is not a personal dignity: it is given to him for others. It is a great dignity and a great responsibility which the Church entrusts primarily to Bishops in a specific place and entrusts them mainly with all the means it has available for the sanctification of Christians: namely the sacraments and the Word of God,” he concluded his message.
His big day started as he left his Lija home with his parents at 8.15 a.m. for the parish church of The Transfiguration, where he stopped to say a prayer and was joined by Mgr Cremona.
Mgr Scicluna and Mgr Cremona, followed by the former’s parents, drove through Naxxar Road, Birkirkara Valley and Santa Venera, passing through St Joseph High Road and stopping at the MUSEUM chapel in Blata l-Bajda where Mgr Scicluna and Mgr Cremona said a prayer at the shrine of St George Preca and in front of the Holy Sacrament.
Mgr Scicluna served as postulator for the beatification case of MUSEUM founder Mgr George Preca, who was beatified in 2003 by former Pope John Paul XX at a ceremony at the Granaries, and then sanctified by current pope Benedict XVI in 2008 at a ceremony at the Vatican.
The two bishops then left the chapel and the cortege headed to Valletta.
Mgr Scicluna and Mgr Cremona entered a packed St John’s Co-Cathedral shortly followed by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and President George Abela.
Dignitaries at St John's Co-Cathedral include the Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri and members of the judiciary, past Presidents Eddie Fenech Adami and Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg, Opposition leader Joseph Muscat, Labour Deputy Leader for Party Affairs Toni Abela, Ministers and MPs.
Prior to being nominated Auxiliary Bishop, Mgr Scicluna served as Promoter of Justice at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which was led by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became Pope.
Photos - Photocity, Valletta