The Archpriest of St George's Basilica in Victoria, Gozo, has demanded action to stop his church being 'buried' under sundshades, tables and chairs which have taken over the square in front of it.

"It is useless grumbling among ourselves, we need to act," Can. Joseph Curmi told parishioners at homily and  in a Facebook post as he announced a press conference with the Graffitti pressure group.

The press conference will be held on the square on Saturday morning, and he urged the parishes to turn up.

Action needed to be taken, Fr Curmi said, so that parishioners could have a decent funeral in the church and so that it did not become impossible for the young to wed there.

The people should also be able to enjoy the square and the surrounding streets unhindered. National heritage, as was the basilica, should be enjoyed and not buried under sunshades and tables and chairs, he said 

"This is not an action against the establishments or anyone in particular, but it is action in favour of St George, ordinary citizens and the people at large," he said.

A post by the archpriest demanding action.A post by the archpriest demanding action.

When he spoke during homily on Sunday, Can. Curmi said some couples had opted, against their will, not to get married at the basilica because of what was taking place. Funerals had also run into problems, navigating the obstacles in the square. This undermined dignity.

He urged parishioners to put aside any possible differences and to unite behind this common cause and he thanked Graffitti for their interest. His appeal was greeted with applause.

The archpriest of St George's parish, Gozo, urging action to safeguard the basilica.(Facebook/St George's Basilica)

Three months ago Fr Curmi had hit out at "land grabbers" who had occupied most of the square in front of the basilica.

The situation was making it difficult to organise weddings and funerals and obstructing people walking in the square in the heart of the town, he said. 

"Piazza San Ġorġ belongs to the people and the situation is becoming intolerable,"  he had complained.

"We have tried goodwill, dialogue and compromise. We have tried to meet the business owners personally. We tried talks lasting several months with the authorities including the police, Transport Malta, the Malta Tourism Authority, local councils and the Lands Authority. They all insist in one way or another that they hold no authority or involvement over St George Square," he said. 



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