Maltese revellers to be charged with ‘offending religious sentiment’
IF you’re not a pukka priest or a nun, but dress up as either in deeply Catholic Malta, you could be in for a nasty shock.
We learn today that nine people are expected to be charged for dressing up in religious vestments during the recent Nadur carnival on the small island of Gozo.
The accused – aged between 20 and 35- face charges under a section of the criminal code which bars people from dressing up as priests or donning church vestments or naval/military uniforms without a permit.
According to Earth Times, it is customary for some young people to dress up as priests and nuns during the rowdy carnival on the staunchly Catholic island.
But a spokesman for the Justice Ministry said photographs published in the media demonstrated that the behaviour was “not simply a case of people dressing up as Christ or the saints” but more a question of public indecency and offending religious sentiment.
Maltese Archbishop Paul Cremona and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said in a statement:
It is good for society to defend the rights of minorities who have different views from the majority of the public. But no one should have the right to ridicule the belief of others in this way.
The bishops condemned what had taken place at the carnival and said those involved needed to recognise and respect religious and civil rights.
The bishops said that if no action was taken, the authorities would be endorsing and approving such illegal behaviour. They also said that this should not be allowed to happen again.
The police measure and the bishops’ statements have been attacked in online fora, with one individual writing on the timesofmalta.com website that Malta had gone back to medieval times.
And we have just discovered that, in a separate prosecution, a man from Zejtun has been given a suspended sentence in Gozo after pleading guilty to denigrating the Roman Catholic religion. Twenty-six-year-old Melvin Barbara of Zejtun was accused that in February he offended Roman Catholics, or the ministers of this religion, during the Nadur carnival.
According to this report, he was accused of wearing a “sacred habit” without permission, or against the prohibition of the respective authorities.
NOTE: The photo used to illustrate this report is of San Franciscan Huntley Gordon, aka Pope Dementia The Last, a member of the local chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters have groups across the USA, in the UK and other countries, and are regular participants in gay pride events where they actively encourage “sin”.