Archbishop Mgr Paul Cremona yesterday urged Catholics to act as a beacon for others and show them how good it is to live as a practising Christian.

Speaking to people who filled the Malta Fans and Convention Centre, in Ta' Qali, which for the second time in as many days was packed to capacity, albeit for different reasons, Mgr Cremona said lay people had a big role to play by living Christian values. Saying how good it felt would make others want to follow suit.

Sporting a smile that has become the trademark of the new Archbishop, Mgr Cremona waived enthusiastically to the crowd who chanted "Pawlu, Pawlu" and waiving red, white and yellow scarves as he appeared on stage.

Julie Zahra, one of the singers who entertained the crowd, told the Archbishop she felt his charisma would attract a lot of youths to the Church. Talent included Claudette Pace, Ludwig Galea and the police band, under the leadership of Inspector Anthony Cassar. A band and choir made up of members of the Charismatic movement were also in attendance.

The Archbishop was welcomed by footballer Carmel Busuttil, his wife Julie and their two children. The footballer asked the bishop to "Bless us with your smile".

Before making his way into the convention centre, Mgr Cremona surprised picnickers when he went around and started speaking to people who were having their Sunday afternoon outing at Ta' Qali.

It was evident that those who went to the convention centre were there not much for the spectacle but to hear what the new pastor had to say. In fact, no sooner had the session where he fielded questions from the floor ended that people started trickling out, even though they were constantly reminded there would be "a surprise" at the end.

The surprise was a visit by Olivia Lewis, who interpreted her winning song, which she will be representing Malta at the Eurovision Song Festival (see back page).

Asked how one could answer the question that priests are not qualified to talk about marriage because they did not experience it, Mgr Cremona said that when he worked with the Cana Movement he had learnt so much about marriage that he thought he'd be good at it were he to get married.

"I can say I am married to many couples with whom I walked in times of difficulty. Those who are speaking about divorce do not realise what marriage is. In marriage, you don't get someone, but you give yourself to someone," he said.

Mgr Cremona said the Church was 2,000 years old and its teachings had stood the test of time, unlike many other forces that rose and waned.

"The Romans had similar thinking about marriage as we are hearing these days and had Jesus wanted to alter the Church's beliefs about marriage, he would have done it then," he said.

Mgr Cremona said we were living in times when it is easy to get alienated and he urged people "to make space for Jesus in their lives".

Police Inspector Cassar gave Mgr Cremona a silver crucifix on behalf of the police corps. The Archbishop thanked the police, whom he said he had kept very busy over the past days.


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