Why was Michael Gonzi KBE one of Malta’s most loved archbishops?

Fr. David Muscat

Every so often, the forces of entrenched interest resurrect the memories of the interdict, – l-interdett – during which the great, saintly, wise, spiritual shepherd of the Maltese Church, Monsignor Archbishop Metropolitan of Malta, Sir Michael Gonzi, with unparalleled wisdom, protected this beautiful land from the scourge of communism.

The British establishment, though not Catholic, recognized the wisdom and greatness of this man, whom their sovereign knighted for the role he had played in the Second World War. Years later, the Americans and their NATO allies, especially Italy under Christian Democratic governments, renewed their gratitude to this remarkable man because, through his intervention, Malta did not become a Cuba in the Mediterranean.

The sixties and seventies were bleak times. Shortly after gaining independence, one after another, former European colonies turned into banana republics governed by petty dictators, the likes of Kim Il Sung, Nicolai Ceaușescu, and Enver Hoxha. Another dictator was Pol Pot, who murdered one-fourth of his countrymen to create a Socialist paradise. Opposing these Herods were honourable cardinals such as József Mindszenty, František Tomášek, and Stefan Wyszyński and others that suffered imprisonment, labour camps, and torture. Befriending these dictators was Dom Mintoff.

Indeed, Mikiel Gonzi had every reason to be concerned. He was not a wannabe cardinal trying to look more Catholic than the Pope by backstabbing his diocesan priests. Gonzi knew what was happening in the world, and like real men, he bravely fought for the freedom of the Church. He was not a chameleon preaching to the spinsters of Catholic Action in the morning, giving them the impression he is Papa Pacelli reincarnated, only to meet Graffitti renegades in the evening and praise Che Guevara – hoping to be praised the day after during Andrew Azzopardi’s drag show. 

Mgr Mikiel Gonzi was the man sent by providence to protect Catholics in a fledgling independent country during the Cold War’s dangerous times. However, if one examines the connection between the principles and actions of the leftists during those ugly years, the actions of their spiritual descendants today, and the utter devastation that the latter have inflicted upon contemporary Malta — environmental, moral, and social — one might conclude that Mikiel Gonzi deserves a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize rather than an apology on his behalf by present-day religious leaders.

Indeed, each time our soulless government attempts to violate divine law, Castille trolls dredge up the specter of the interdett from history’s annals. With a smug sense of superiority and a deluge of crocodile tears, they lament and amplify their alleged past suffering when confronted with the prospect of burial in unconsecrated ground in conversation with anyone who vouches for even the slightest opposition to abortion or the tyranny of LGBTQ+ gender ideology—which, incidentally, Pope Francis recently denounced as ugly neocolonialism in Victor Orban’s Budapest—to euthanasia, and so forth. They vilify Roman Catholics, accusing them of imposing their faith, and spew venom against the memory of holy priests and spiritual shepherds who preceded us.

The irony is that good people like Ġuże Ellul Mercer, despite not receiving the sacraments on their deathbed, are probably saved after meeting the Merciful Judge, Our Lord Jesus Christ. That is what needed to be clarified by Gonzi’s successors without the need for an apology. He just did his job. Moreover, true agnostics or atheists know that the best way to dismiss religion is to opt for a secular humanist funeral and make priests irrelevant. That’s what my medieval history professor Godfrey Wettinger did, and it was quite a dignified ceremony held on campus without any clerics around preaching about Jesus’s death and resurrection.

The call for the erection of a monument on the Church’s property only serves to highlight the need for the sacred, but I guess the one who is proposing this has a lethal combination of invincible and vincible ignorance, much to the delight of his opponent, the bishop!

But the latter’s reply was sad because it reveals an equally puerile attempt to remain relevant. It is the reply of someone who ardently wants to remain on the top of soap boxes during funerals and ceremonies. This is the reply of someone who readily compromises doctrine and, in the process, renders the sacraments worthless. (Thank God for the ex opere operato). Heretics want same-sex marriage to be officiated in churches, eucharistic communion of pro-abortionist politicians, and the rest. In 1937, Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned against this in The Cost of Discipleship. He wrote: Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.

It is disheartening when godless people attack Jesus Christ and His Holy Apostolic Roman Catholic Church brazenly. However, it is not unexpected, for our Lord warned us, “If they persecuted me, they would persecute you also” (John 15:20). What is genuinely more disheartening is when present-day Catholics align themselves with the enemies of God and disparage the historical memory of heroes like Mikiel Gonzi instead of defending the Church.

They believe appeasement will achieve some goals but are sorely mistaken. George Weigel, the author of the bestselling biography of St. John Paul II, Witness to Hope, illustrates how right Mikiel Gonzi was and how wrong his opponents were. He reveals how Karol Wojtyła thwarted Vatican foreign policy, which, in an attempt to salvage something from the crushing oppression of communism behind the Iron Curtain, had adopted the Ostpolitik policy, the architect of which was Agostino Casaroli. This policy ultimately failed because it was a desperate attempt to find a modus non moriendi for the rights of Christians and the Church in the Warsaw Pact countries in exchange for appeasement. Weigel demonstrates that appeasement never works and that the Madonna chose a lionhearted man from Poland, who shattered this sorrowful empire by denouncing the true nature of its monstrous evil. Wojtyła apologized for the Inquisition and the persecution of Jews, but he NEVER apologized for the Church’s resistance to the Socialists for trespassing on the freedom of the Church.

Regrettably, today in Malta, there are those who believe themselves to be clever. They fail to learn from history and will never comprehend that the Church, from its inception at the Pentecost up to the Parousia, will always have to engage in politico-religious battles, for that is the consequence of her mission – to “cast down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly,” as Mary proclaimed shortly after the Holy Spirit filled her. This Spirit once more filled the Virgin at the second incarnation of Pentecost, where she kept vigil with the rest of the early Church. So now the Church should cast down the mighty from their thrones just like the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us pray that she hastens the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

The funeral of Archbishop Michael Gonzi was a public manifestation of the love of the Maltese nation toward this great man.

15 thoughts on “Why was Michael Gonzi KBE one of Malta’s most loved archbishops?

  1. Qat ma kont nobsor li xi medea ha tithajar tipermetti li jitqajem dil-qwalita ta ZIBELMILL GDID. Mur inheba u Halina nejxu fil qwiet FRA.

  2. jiena nemmen il Arch Michel Gonzi kien ghamel hafna ghall maltin u kien difensur tal knisja ta Kristu, bniedem gharaf b vizjioni bazata fuq twemmin nisrani, pero l opinionjioni tieghi qatt ma nista naqbel mal interdett, hawn nahseb zbalja u b kbir li sal lum il knisja ghada baghti il konsegwenzi tieghu, u hafna nies ghadhom imweggajn, Pero dejjem nemmen il Arch Michel Gonzi kellu sinsla u ragel ta determinazzjioni,

  3. L-Arcisqof Gonzi kien bniedem tà vizjoni kbira u jhobb liz-zghir. Ghamel social housing il-Blata l-Bajda fejn bena flats ghal dawk li ma kellhomx fejn joqghodu u ghadhom hemm sal lum. Sahhah il-Bank APS biex jghin b’rati baxxi lil min ried jissellef biex jixtri daru. Bena l-istitut kattoliku bhala centru tà taghlim u rikreazzjoni (drama) li ghadna immorru fih sal lum. Hallas minn butu biex inbniet il-knisja parrokjali tal-Kalkara kif ukoll wieghzen bil-kbir (fi flus) il-bini tad-dar tal-Providenza. Dawn huma ftit minn dak kollu li ghamel. Altru li ghamel hafna tajjeb! Imma ahna lejn l-interdett biss inharsu u fuq dak biss nitkelmu. It-tajjeb kollu li ghamel ma nharsux lejh u lanqas nitkellmu fuqu. Imnalla li Alla jiggudika u li jhares lejn kollox mhux bhalna l-bnedmin. Strieh fis-Sliem Mons Arcisqof Mikiel Gonzi u itlob ghal Malta taghna.

    1. Mela b’dak li għamel bl-interdett Mikiel Gonzi tilef kull prejġu li sergħa kellu fuq li semmejt li għamel tajjeb int. Inċidentalment dak flus il-knisja dejjem uża u mhux flusu. Sempliċiment għażel hu kif jintefqu fuq kollox bħal na jgħamel l-gvern. L-interdett kien kundanna (fittizja fuq kollox) li tfisser li tkun tlift ruħek għall-eternita jekk ma obdejtx lil l-isqof. Li tikkundanna bniedem wieħed hekk diġa’ ħażin immens, iktar milli kieku ikkundannajt lill-istess bniedem għal forka. Allaħares veru kien jiġri dan.
      Fr. David Muscat bil-mod li kiteb kien ikun wieħed min dawk il-qassisin li kien jikkundannak għal l-infern fi żmien l-interdett. Fi żminijiet oħra ftit iktar inbeda kien jaħarqek ħaj dal bravu qassis.

  4. two points:

    1) Under Dom Mintoff’s Labour party of the time, there was NEVER any chance of communism taking hold in Malta. Indeed, he was a champion of all things Christian and of Christ. It is a different matter today when the Kurja itself is promoting communist ideology like gender indoctrination, the removal of the mention of Christianity from the Constitution etc !

    2) It is the Kurja (Gonzi) who started the war on Labour. Not the other way round. Labour never wanted a war with the church in the first place.

    The whole wad of letters between the two parties in the infamous interdett show this most clearly.

    It is therefore quite a shame to paint the interdett as some kind of heroic stand against communism. It was anything but!

    1. It is great you came out to champion your Uncle, the truest and greatest Maltese hero of modern times. I was never a Mintoffjan but still with all his earthly faults, Mintoff was Malta’s greatest son of mammoth proportion. Gonzi can never match the grandeur of Mintoff. In those days you needed to be very special to have the courage to stand up to the Church. Gonzi knew his strength and wielded ruthlessly. I hope the poor people he condemned to hell are now avenged with they infront and he at the very back. God bless all those other heros who stood firm with your uncle.

  5. L-interdett kien l-akbar żball li għamlet il-knisja kattolika f’pajjiżna. Firda kbira ibbażata fuq twemmin ta’ xi ħadd li jżomm għalih il-poter u l-privileġġi kollha li kienet twagdi l-knisja dak iż-żmien. Kruċjati li kienu mmirata biss biex il-Partit Laburista u kull min kien jappoġġjah jiġu emarġinati! Perjodu tal-mistħija u l-Isqof Gonzi kien arkitett ta’ dan il-perjodu iswed fl-istorja tal-knisja. Immaġini ta’ knisja li suppost tippriedka l-ħiena imbagħad lanqas ħniena mal-mejtin ma’ kellha! Knisja li użat l-emozzjonijiet tan-nies għall-finijiet ta’ poter tagħha! L-effett tal-interdett għandhom jinħassu sal-lum. Kull min kellu l-ġenituri tiegħu li għaddew minn dan l-perjodu ikrah fl-istorja ta’ pajjiżna, għandhom memorji xejn sbieħ u ħafna stejjer x’jirrakkontaw. Huwa tal-mistħija kif illum hawn min qed jipprova jpinġi dan l-episodju bħal xi att erojku tal-Sir Michael Gonzi!

    1. Likbar misthija hi kif illum baqa min johrog jedefendi iz-zibel li sar. Jew jerga jirxuxtah.

  6. For me he was one against to whom want to learn, against the worker’s rights and against the progres. He was negative and old minded persone (ghantikwat).

      1. Looking at the Malta of today, perhaps the archbishop was correct about communism and the collapse of values; and we’re nowhere near the end yet.

  7. The most beloved by all people Archbishop Malta had is indisputably no other but Archbishop Emeritus Pawlu Cremona. Archbishop Michael Gonzi was more hated or feared than loved than any other Archbishop in the entire history of Malta. He was a narcissist, full of himself, a warmonger and highly politically biased. He was a cause of a lot of extreme material and spiritual sufferings and hatred for many families and members of the church alike. If it was not so Archbishop Gonzi would not have appeared on the national TV at the end of his life apologising, asking public forgiveness and trying to excuse his heavy handed and vile actions. Actions that are still painful scars for many to this day. David Muscat you impressed nobody!

  8. Deliberately controversial. Stoking a fire that should not be. The problem with some clerics is the same as that of some politicians – talk without substance because the importance they give is the sound not the result. I am sure that archbishop Gonzi did much good but the ‘interdet’ was a form of collective punishment that should never have been and anyone who gives a passing study to Mintoff knows that he never wanted to make the country a communist dictatorship. The simplest testement to this is the fact that he could have but did not ergo he did not want to.

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