“Though small, Gozo, in my opinion, has many individual and singular characteristics and monuments worthy to be known and never forgotten.” These are the words written in the 18th century by Canon Giovanni Pietro Francesco Agius De Soldanis (1712 – 1770).

Although small, our island of Gozo is gorgeous, charming and stunning. People who come from abroad to visit our island for the first time remain fascinated and enchanted by the beauty and the uniqueness of this small island! The geological features, simplicity and harmony of this small island are indeed awesome and unrivalled.

Gozo’s rich history, its monuments, its superb churches, the small quaint houses, the fertile valleys, the round hills, the rubble walls in our colourful countryside are our treasures. The Gozitans’ simple way of life is especially appealing to the visitors. We Gozitans are proud of this simplicity, harmony and our quiet life. We need ‘to fight’ so as to preserve these qualities!

Unfortunately, during the last few years, Gozo has changed drastically. We have been invaded again! This time not by the Turks but by a number of Gozitans and not only who, through their greed to make a fortune for themselves, are exploiting Gozo. They are destroying the harmony and the unique features of our beautiful island. Their objectives are to enrich their pockets and, consequently, become filthy rich: the sooner the better. They simply do not care about our heritage, the great sacrifice and hard work of our ancestors.

Gozo is beautiful and truly unique because it is small and endowed by God’s creative beauty. Big and enormous buildings that are spiralling out of control do not fit with the identity of our small island! These ‘cowboys’ abide by no laws, no rules and no respect for others. By abusing power, they continue to propagate egoism and immorality. Gozo is the priceless diamond in the Mediterranean and ‘a great gift of our Creator’.

My dear Gozitans, where are you? Please wake up! Do not be afraid to stand up and be counted. We all need ‘to defend’ our dear island. It seems that some of you only protest when someone infringes on your rights and freedom. You do talk and shout when someone violates your personal property etc. This is very depressive as, by character, Gozitans are known to fight for their own rights. I cannot believe that, with all this destruction around us… the defacement of our environment with the blessing of the authorities, hardly anyone has the courage to complain.

We are passively letting others destroy our identity and heritage. We just do not want to admit that, if this horrible destruction continues, the island of Gozo will simply become a jungle. In a few years’ time there will be nothing else for us Gozitans and visitors to admire! Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Laudato si’ on the care for our common home in May 2015 wrote:

1. “Laudato si’, mi’ signore” – Praise be to you my Lord. In the words of this beautiful canticle, St Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth who sustains and governs us and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.”

We have the duty to hand Gozo to those who come after us as God Himself gave it to us- Fr Charles Cini

2. “This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her Lords and Masters, entitled to ponder her at will.”

Wake up Gozitans, my friends especially the young, because tomorrow will be too late. Wake up and stop this desecration. There is a Roman saying: quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini. Who knows what those who built Ġgantija are saying! These modern developers (sic!) are destroying the harmony which reigns in our villages, in our streets, in our rubble walls, in our rural environment. In other words, they are destroying our heritage and traditions.

St Francis of Assisi would say: “Even the environment where we live is protesting.”

Do not be responsible for the destruction of the island of Calypso. Who gave you the permission to wither off the beauty and harmony of our beloved island?

The authorities, who solemnly took the oath to take care of this small island, are not doing enough to consolidate and preserve our history and identity. Look at De Soldanis and others, who, in very difficult times, stood up and made sure that our Gozo would never be inferior to any other country.

All the visitors from all over the world envy the uniqueness of Gozo.

My dear Gozitans, Gozo belongs to you. Dignity means responsibility, care and love. We have the duty to hand Gozo to those who come after us as God Himself gave it to us; ideally even better than we have found it. Do not be carried away by the lure of money, power, status and other titles. Be influenced by the notions of unity, harmony, beauty, humility, generosity and, above all, integrity! The world is rotten because of lethargy. Do not be afraid ‘to fight’ for your own rights. Who is going to save us from this chaos?

I highly commend the Gozo Regional Committee which is leading the way to defend Gozo and its inhabitants. All 14 mayors of our region stood up to be counted and, with the president of the region, Samuel Azzopardi, are demanding that Gozo does not become another Malta.

Gozo is plagued by irregularities and shortcomings. Where are the authorities? Why has the Planning Authority and the Environment and Resources Authority abandoned Gozo? How come there are no Gozitans to speak and defend Gozo on the boards of these authorities?

Minister for Gozo, Gozitan MEP, Gozitan MPs and the Church in Gozo, are you all happy with this sad situation?

Fr Charles Cini, member, Salesians of Don Bosco

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