Lessons in hypocrisy

Hypocrisy is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the practice of claiming to have higher standards or beliefs than is the case.” I believe that such practise or practises are most ordinary on the islands of Malta. In fact, they seem to be the order of the day.

It is common knowledge that a good number of Maltese pride themselves with their Catholic beliefs and heritage. Let me make it clear that there is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful in being proud of one’s faith, lest I be accidentally (or purposefully) misunderstood. Yet if one is so proud of one’s faith why does one preach it selectively? Let me explain.

I do not expect the Church to embrace the issue of civil rights such as divorce, gay rights, IVF technology, etc with open arms even though I wish it weren’t so fervently dogmatic on so many issues. Yet, although I don’t see eye to eye with the Catholic Church on certain aspects, I’ve no dispute whatsoever with it. My blood begins to boil however when I witness persons who profess to live by the rules of Church and God when in fact they clearly do not.

It is the kind of people who look down on civil rights such as divorce, cohabitation and gay rights - rights which in most European democracies are mainstream – and do so with repugnance and abhorrence. These are people who literally believe that giving a man the right to marry another man would result in the instant annihilation of ethics and morals. They have every right not to believe in gay marriage but you ask why and the obvious reply is that it goes against the laws of God. Such issues have everything to do with Christian morality. In fact these people are so concerned that they would only cast their vote for potential MEPs upon affirmation of their Catholic moral outlook which comes first and foremost. Read the letters in the newspapers if you don’t believe this.

I turn now to illegal immigration. As such, civil rights haven’t got much in common with illegal immigration but like divorce, illegal immigration is a hot topic currently being debated by society and views on immigration also have a role to play in the MEP elections. Unlike civil rights, illegal immigration is not governed by morality. As much as I try to understand why, I cannot. You may ask genuine questions such as:
  1. Is it moral to send these people back to their homeland when you know they will be maltreated, abused, tortured?
  2. Is it moral to send them back to Libya which did not even ratify the Geneva Convention and which surely cannot boast of its human rights record?
  3. Is it moral to keep them locked up for 18 months in horrific and inhumane conditions; to ridicule and humiliate them and brand them with illegality even when they have applied for asylum?
  4. Or is it moral to treat them as human beings, with dignity and respect even if they do not deserve international protection?
You ask all that of these questions and you might as well dig your own grave. Despite Msgr. Grech’s courageous Christian message on detention, Christianity somehow does not feature in illegal immigration. Despite the countless Biblical verses that profess loving and welcoming the ‘stranger’ these are somehow not considered ‘the laws of God’.

Ideally religion would have nothing to do with issues such as divorce and illegal immigration because in an ideal world we would respect each other’s choices despite our personal faith and treat human beings with dignity without religion having to tell us to do so. But a world which is obstinately governed by “morality” on a wide range of issues and by a sheer lack of it in others (where it ought to feature the most!) is not an ideal world. It is a world governed by hypocrisy and what truly pains me is that this hypocrisy is not merely the fruit of ignorance but practised even by the wisest of the wise.

Dear friends, we can all be united under the banner of solidarity, which solidarity is admittedly plain hard to get (thus all the more reason to stand united), but let us not unite under the banner of hypocrisy. It is not worthy.

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