We need more leaders like George Vella, current president of Malta. The small jewel of an island nation, in the middle of the Mediterranean, with one of the most pleasant climates and locales on earth. Besides its geographic beauty, Malta is also spiritually rich, steeped in Catholic tradition and history, and still, until recently, one of the few places left on earth where the Faith was still lived in a communal, integral way, in that harmony between the Church and the State, for which Pope Leo XIII and many other Popes have called. The Great Siege of Malta in 1565 is one of the greatest military episodes in all of history, when a vastly outnumbered band of Catholic Knights Hospitaller held the island against thousands of Muslim Ottoman invaders.
In my own imagination, writing from the rural regions of frosty Canada, I have thought of Malta as a mythical refuge, to which I could sail as things fell apart, mooring my boat on some rocky reef, to eke out my days in the Catholic sunshine, with lots of laughter and good red wine.
But that Sun is about to set, as Malta, one of the last pro-life places on this planet, is about to legalize abortion, drowning the island in the blood of innocents. (See the accompanying article by Maltese priest, Father Attard). President Vella, who is also a pro-life physician, promises to resign if this bill passes into law. There are no exceptions for him, for a baby is a baby, regardless of the circumstances of his conception, and taking an innocent life is, simply, murder.
As Dr. Vella puts it, simply: I will never forget listening to those small beating hearts at eight or nine weeks and then following them until birth…I cannot imagine how we can terminate this life at any stage in its development
The Second Vatican Council’s decree on the laity states that the faithful must be led ‘continently’, by ‘one Christian conscience’. That is, one’s conscience cannot ‘leak’, become porous, doing evil in one’s ‘public life’ as a ‘representative of the will of the people’, while being ‘privately opposed’, the excuse given by so many politicians from Kennedy to Cuomo to Biden. (Our own Trudeau doesn’t even seem to bother with this pretense, supporting abortion in public and private). I am reminded of Thomas More’s speech in A Man for All Seasons: That if he were to take Henry’s sacrilegious oath, his conscience, which he holds like water in his cupped hands, would dribble out onto the ground.
How many consciences in our world have been so ruined? And it is with that conscience that each one of us will have to stand before Christ our Saviour, in Whose presence there are no more excuses or compromises. As the Council’s pastoral constitution, Gaudium et Spes warns:
Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience when necessary speaks to his heart: do this, shun that. For man has in his heart a law written by God; to obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged
The history of our world hinges not so much laws or constitutions, military battles or diplomatic treaties, but upon the conscience of each individual, all those concrete moral decisions made deep within each human heart. Nothing can move a serene and solid conscience founded on the rock of the Faith, and that same conscience in turn move mountains.
This applies not only to presidents and prime ministers – even though the mighty will be mightily judged – but also the police, the military, physicians, nurses, judges, lawyers, teachers, bankers, and all of us, tasked with enforcing or teaching unjust laws, or living by the lies on which they are based and which they instantiate. We must at the very least refuse to go along, look the other way, or cooperate with evil, even at the cost of suffering, which is sent by God for our good.
After all, the form of this world is passing away,- even the beauty of Malta! The next, and far greater world, awaits, but only for those who have remained faithful unto the end. May the example of the Knights, Thomas More, George Vella and countless others resonate through the ages. +