Historians comment on Archbishop's homily

Historians in the News

“The choice of a national day is a political decision which ought to be historically-based. It is hardly the archbishop’s business to pontificate about it,” said historian Henry Frendo when contacted by The Malta Independent.

Prof. Frendo was commenting on the Archbishop’s homily to churchgoers including Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi and Opposition Leader Joseph Muscat, during the Independence Day Pontifical Mass at St John’s Co-Cathedral.

Archbishop Paul Cremona, OP, said that our national days are of “equal importance” and it is justifiable wholeheartedly to celebrate the days which unite the whole country. Referring to Independence Day, Victory Day, Republic Day and Freedom Day among others, Mgr Cremona said that all these dates are of equal importance.

“It strikes me as odd that the Archbishop opted to comment like this on the matter,” said Prof. Frendo while questioning Mgr Cremona’s expertise on the subject, other than as a pastoral wish for unity. There has been some considerable historiography on the subject among the few researchers who have published substantively on this period aided by archival material.

On the other hand, historian Dominic Fenech thought it was rather “strange” for the Archbishop to go into the matter, although he did not see this as some sort of political interference.

Prof. Frendo said that on the previous day Dr Gonzi had said that Independence Day should be made the national day whereas Dr Muscat had called for one national day, on which the Leader of the Opposition should join the President and the Prime Minister in laying wreaths....

... Nonetheless, Prof. Fenech believed that the national day subject is not a question of expertise but a matter of politicians having to reflect the people’s opinion and what unites them. This was more the case since historians did not agree on which feast to name as the national day.

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