Message by Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna
I would like to thank the Maltese Government for the support it has always shown and continues to show in so many concrete ways and means for the education of the children and young people entrusted by so many Maltese parents to the effective and holistic services rendered by Church Schools.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many religious brothers and sisters and priests, and the lay staff for their dedicated service to the education of our young people and to the country.
✠ Charles J. Scicluna
Archbishop of Malta
Message by the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico
I would like to say a big “thank you” to Minister Carmelo Abela and Minister Evarist Bartolo for the organization of this Press Conference at the conclusion of the excellent work of the Joint Commission appointed in 2018 on the issue of the provision of laptops to Learning Support Educators and Kindergarten Assistants in Church Schools. Above all, through them, I do want to express to the Government of the Republic of Malta our deep gratitude and satisfaction for the solution adopted.
To what has already been said here, let me add that this result arrives after intense negotiations that begun in Autumn 2017, when I just arrived in Malta. At that time, the Episcopal Conference told me that there was an important issue pending with the Government of Malta, because in the previous months laptops had been provided to the Learning Support Educators and Kindergarten Assistants of the State Schools, but not to those of Church Schools.
Obviously we referred to the Articles 9 and 10 of the Agreement between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta on Church Schools (signed in 1991), where it was agreed that the State guarantees to the teachers and the students of Church Schools the same facilities provided for those in State Schools.
As we could not reach an immediate solution, we suggested to form a Joint Commission, according to Article 15, § 1 of the same Agreement.
The Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat immediately accepted the proposal and by June 2018 the Government appointed its members for the Joint Commission, and the Holy See those for the Catholic part.
There were several meetings. The last one was held on the 17th July of this year, when the Government Members of the Joint Commission announced that the Executive has decided to provide laptops not only to the Learning Support Educators and Kindergarten Assistants, but also for all teachers of Church Schools, in the interest and for the benefit of the students.
I would like to add that together with the specific work carried on by the Joint Commission, we had intense negotiations with the highest Authorities of the State, because we were convinced that although there were juridical and technical issues to be studied, it was very important to ascertain the political will and the Executive’s availability to find amicable solutions.
Thus, in many occasions I discussed this issue at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that is the principal point of reference of every Embassy (especially with the Hon. Minister Carmelo Abela and the Permanent Secretary Dr. Fiona Formosa); but I deemed opportune to submit the matter also directly to the Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat. I am very grateful to them, because they have always assured me of the Government’s will to reach an amicable solution.
Then, after the appointment of Dr. George Vella as President of the Republic, I have presented the matter also to him, in the general context of the bilateral relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Malta, trusting that he too could support and encourage the Executive and the political will that was already assured to me.
Allow me to share also a final important point. The Superiors of the Holy See received this good news with great joy and expressed “their satisfaction, especially for the role played by the highest Authorities in reaching such a positive solution on this issue”. They added also that “the Holy See looks at this achievement as a sign of sincere appreciation of the role that the Catholic Church and its Institutions have in the Maltese scholastic system”.
Thus I think that the good outcome of this Joint Commission is another sign of the excellent relations happily existing between the Republic of Malta and the Holy See, and nourish the trustful hope that these relations may continue to grow in the years to come. Thank you.
✠ Alessandro D’Errico