First of all, thank you to all newspaper columnists, radio and TV presenters, and journalists for coming. When it was suggested that we celebrate the World Communications Day on board the ‘Phoenix’, we were not only thinking of the important gesture of Pope Francis when visiting Lesbos, but also the essence of his message this year, which is about communication and mercy.
First of all, communication is the essence of mercy because when you communicate you are sharing your own spirit, your own heart. Communication is merciful when it is an expression of human solidarity and compassion.
We are on a ‘ship of mercy’. Last year, in prepartion for the Year of Mercy, I told Regina “that [the door through which migrants are brought on the ship when rescued] is a ‘door of mercy’”, but this is also a ‘ship of mercy’. Yesterday, I was discussing with Regina while Chris was in Sweden trying to organise a corridor of mercy. I think that what you are doing is something wonderful and I am also here to support your mission and to say that we Maltese, who come from a tradition of compassion and acceptance of the other, need to continue in that extraordinary experience that brought us not only the Apostle Paul, but so many people who have enriched our nation. Through our history we had a couple of invaders and so we are also apprehensive, but in today’s world, we need to share not only our concerns, but most of all our solidarity with other people by making it possible that Malta becomes part of a strategy of mercy.
As we talk about communication and mercy, I think that it is good to be on this ‘ship of mercy’ – as I would like to baptise it – but I must emphasise that mercy has to be concrete; it is not just something we talk about. I am here today with newspaper columnists, radio and TV presenters, and journalists, who have such an important mission – that of arousing a conscience in our nation, in society today, because media are a world wide phenomenon, and it cannot be insular of its very own nature because of the internet, because of so many ways that opinions flow and go abroad.
We Maltese need to be protagonists in a culture of compassion and solidarity. We need to hear what the Pope said in Lesbos, what he also said to the European Union when he accepted the Charlemagne Prize, that we need to have a Europe of hope and that is not about building walls but building bridges, even if it is a corridor of mercy as you [MOAS] are trying to do by bringing people from Libya to countries that can offer them dignity. This ship, as we have seen, is the first step to a more dignified existence.
Today, we also heard about the traumatic journeys so many people have to endure to find a better future or to avoid a future without hope. I think that this ship also represents that first step towards a life of dignity which we need to promote. And so I am also here to say thank you for all you do in your profession as columnists, presenters and journalists, to help educate the young generations, but also the older ones, into a culture of acceptance and a culture which has the courage to risk, because accepting somebody is also taking a risk. We cannot be one hundred percent sure when accepting people, but it is the same with human relationships – when you commit yourself to a person you are also taking a risk. Therefore, I think that another name for this risk is love and giving one’s life.
I need to thank you, Chris and Regina, and all your staff, and I would like to thank each one of you for whatever you do and you will certainly keep doing in creating a culture that does not shy away and is not afraid of risking accepting another person, even if they come uninvited. That is the challenge! They probably do not have the means to buy a passport, but they come and knock on our doors, and my prayer is that they knock on the door of our hearts, not on boundaries and walls that we build around our society and our continent. Thank you so much.