The Christian identity of this very religious people is closely linked to an event mentioned in the Book of Acts (28. 1-10): the Apostle Paul is shipwrecked at Malta on his way to Rome, as a prisoner.
Today the island knows other people who are shipwrecked! And in a certain way, they too are prisoners. Thousands of refugees from the south of the Sahara arrive in Malta, escaping from the misery of dictatorial regimes. By its geographical location, Malta takes in – in reception centres - all those who do not have the strength to go farther. Great numbers of people wish to go to Europe in order to find work and to build a future for themselves.
Coping with these waves of immigrants is not easy for the people of this small country. During the weekend meeting organised by the youth ministry, we were able to listen to the deeply moving witness of three young people who have found refuge in Malta.
Beyond material aid, it is essential that our way of welcoming refugees, in Europe or elsewhere, be accompanied by gestures that are full of humanity.
In a reception centre started by a Franciscan priest, who is well on in years, we witnessed a scene that was full of meaning. Every evening, he goes into the dormitories of the young people, to wish them goodnight. He puts his hand on the table and invites them all to put their hands on his. This ends with “the cry”: We are a family! Straightening up, the priest says to us, with a look full of kindness: “This is a silent cry that no one hears!” In Malta and Gozo, we met Christians who commit themselves fully and who find gestures to express their closeness.