I’m giving everybody prior warning: it’s going to be a thorny one today. With much fanfare, cremation is finally being ushered into the Maltese islands with the blessing of the Archbishop.

According to Catholic teaching, the faithful cannot be buried at sea or scattered haphazardly, and somehow, half the population have problem with this. Photo: Shutterstock.comAccording to Catholic teaching, the faithful cannot be buried at sea or scattered haphazardly, and somehow, half the population have problem with this. Photo: Shutterstock.com

I am personally somewhat diffident to this event, partly because it would be nice to have a grave rather than a loculus to visit my loved ones at, and partly because of some pro­bably misplaced romantic notion. I don’t know what I myself will eventually opt for but having a choice will definitely be nice for the vast majority of the island.

What I do, however, object to is the mostly ignorant way in which many have taken to commenting about this occurrence in our history. The Archbishop made a statement which stated that according to Catholic teaching, the faithful could not be buried at sea or scattered haphazardly, nor could they be made into mementos, and somehow, half the population managed to have problem with this.

The mind well and truly boggles.

In this country of 365 churches, literally one for every day of the year, and where most people have had religion shoveled down their throat since they were suckling at their mother’s breast, I fail to grasp the length and breath of the profoundly illogical reasoning and the amount of chips on people’s shoulders. Some people have so many that they could have probably fed all of Ireland singlehandedly during the potato (chip) famine.

The Archbishop is the local head of the Catholic Church: it’s not only his right to defend the teachings of the faithful he’s leading, it’s also his responsibility. You can choose wheth­er or not to subscribe to Catholic beliefs, but I’m afraid you can’t choose what the faith itself dictates. I can’t for the life of me under­stand how anyone expects him to uphold burial at sea or being turned into a cocktail ring when it goes directly against to the teachings of the Church.

Everyone wants to sleep around with the blessing of the Pope

And the buck doesn’t stop there: the Maltese do this with literally every single moral issue, somehow seeming to expect the Church to change its teachings based on the feelings and whims of poor little me. What’s more, the minute anybody points out anything objectively, someone else will inevitably bring up abuse as their ‘trump card’, as if every single priest they have ever met is some kind of crimi­nal. Not only is this vastly untrue, it is also extremely unfair to a Church that routinely provides vast swathes of the population with education and care, be they ill, young, old, Christian or not.

The Church has never offered people the easiest of roads, but nowadays at least it is most definitely a free one. No one is going to stone you if you don’t go to Mass; no one is going to force you to say your prayers if you don’t want to, but if you do actually want to subscribe to this way of life, then sadly for you, you’re probably not going to be able to participate in an orgy on a Friday and be buried at sea on a Sunday. It truly is the moral equiva­lent of going to McDonald’s and complaining about the lack of salads they have on the menu.

An old teacher of mine, now buried himself, once said “everyone wants to sleep around with the blessing of the Pope”, and as vulgar as it sounded at the time, he couldn’t have been more right.

How you choose to live and die is entirely up to you, and you should always be given that choice, but do yourself and everyone else a favour and be consistent, or better yet, stop caring. I’m afraid there will be a lot of disappointed people when they discover the centre of the universe and realise that they’re not it.

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