Sunday 22 April 2018


Fr Kalcidon Vassallo has his say…

The letter which was circulated to Balzan residents warning them about the “dangers” of Halloween created such a stir that I thought it was only fair to ask the parish priest, Dun Kalcidon Vassallo himself, to set the record straight. He has kindly replied to all my questions, which I have translated into English. His original replies in Maltese are also reproduced below for accuracy’s sake.

After reading his replies, one thought continues to nag at me: why did people get so upset at what is, after all, just a letter? Surely it would have been easier to simply ignore it, especially if one is not a practising Catholic.   Yet the public reaction was quite vociferous and at times unnecessarily anti-clerical.  My question is, why?

Let me know what you think..

Q & A

Who wrote the letter?

The letter was written by myself together with the vice-Parish priest and was on the initiative of the parish.

Was this done with the permission of the Curia?

As I explained, we took the initiative. Last year we said the same thing more or less, and the article was published both in Lehen is-Sewwa on 30 October 2010 as well as in the Regina at Mater of November 2010. In other words, we said nothing new. Apart from that, on 5 October 2005, the Diocesan Commission on the Occult and Satanism had issued a press release which, among other things, had stated: “Halloween is of pagan origin” and it added, “for this reason, for those who wish to take their Christian calling seriously, the Commission feels it would be better if this tradition is not celebrated.”

The Italian Episcopal Conference had also issued a statement to the newspaper Avvenire in which it had warned parents about the dangers which are linked with the celebration and the practice of the tradition of Halloween. They described it as “a celebration of fear and the macabre.”

Don Aldo Bonaiuto, the journalist responsible for anything to do with sects in the region of Marche, Italy, also warned parents against this tradition and stated that this celebration “promotes the culture of death”. He added, “this tradition pushes our young people and our children towards the world of magic and attacks anything which is sacred and has spiritual value by introducing that person to the art and images of the occult.”  

As you are aware, this letter has created quite a stir among parents who feel there is nothing wrong with their children taking part in Halloween. In fact, some people feel that the parish has done more damage than good with this letter. In the light of these reactions do you now feel that perhaps this letter should never have been issued?

With all due respect (and no hard feelings intended) as the Archbishop likes to say, “not everything which is celebrated in our culture is good and Christian”. If we wish to live like Christians we should always keep ourselves updated on what the Church is telling us. I feel that as a parish we offered a service of Christian information about this custom which has entered our country, perhaps without reflecting enough about it. I’m sorry if this information did not go down well with everyone, but I cannot speak otherwise, because if I did I feel I would be deceiving people.

These are Fr Vassallo’s original replies in Maltese:

  • Dik inkitbet minni u l-vici flimkien u kienet inizjattiva tal-Parrocca.
  • Kif ghedtlek kienet inizjattiva tal-parrocca. Is-sena l-ohra, bejn wiehed u iehor, l-istess kliem intqal u kien stampat kemm f’Lehen is-Sewwa tat-30.10.10, kif ukoll fir-Regina et Mater ta’ Novembru 2010. Igifieri ma ghedna xejn gdid. Barra minnhekk fil-5 ta Ottubru, 2005, l-Kummissjoni Djocesana dwar l-Okkult u s-Satanizmu kienet harget stqarrija ghall-istampa fejn, fost affarijiet ohra qalet: “Halloween hija ta origini pagana” u kompliet: “ghal din ir-raguni, ghal min jixtieq jiehu bis-serjeta is-sejha nisranija tieghu, l-Kummissjoni jidhrilha li jkun ahjar li din il-festa ma tigix celebrata.”
  • Il-Konferenza Episkopali Taljana kienet harget stqarrija fil-gazzetta AVVENIRE li fiha wissiet lill-genituri dwar il-perikli li jinsabu marbuta mac-celebrazzjoni u mal-prattika tal-festa tal-Halloween. Huma ddeskrivew il-festa bhala ‘celebrazzjoni tal-biza u tal-makabrita’.
  • Don Aldo Bonaiuto, gurnalista u responsabbli fejn jidhlu setet fir-regjun tal-Marche fl-Italja, wissa lill-genituri dwar din il-festa u qal li din ic-celebrazzjoni ‘tippromwovi l-kultura tal-mewt’. Ikompli jghid: ‘Halloween timbotta lit-tfal u z-zghazagh taghna lejn dinja tal-magija u tattakka dak kollu li huwa sagru u ghandu valur spiritwali billi tintroduci lill-persuna lejn l-arti u x-xbiehat okkulti.’
  • Bir-rispett kollu (hbieb konna u mija nibqghu) kif ihobb jghid l-Arcisqof, “mhux kull ma ticcelebra l-kultura hija tajba u nisranija.” Jekk irridu nghixu ta’ nsara, irridu dejjem naggornaw ruhna ma dak li tghidilna l-Knisja. Inhoss li bhala parrocca offrejna servizz ta taghrif nisrani dwar drawwa li diehla f’pajjizna, forsi bla ma rriflettejna fuqha bizzejjed. Jiddispjacini jekk dan it-taghrif ma jdoqqx tajjeb ghal widnejn kulhadd, imma ma nistax nghid mod iehor ghax inkun qed nidhaq bin-nies.


  • Ramon Casha

    I can speculate on some of the reasons why people were not happy with this letter.

    Imagine you were a teacher who was already preparing a little harmless Halloween activity at school for the kids, and that you’ve done this for the past few years. Then you get this letter essentially informing the parents that you have been leading their children to satanism, sexual perversions and the rest.

    Some people I know who have kids and who happily let them play with witch costumes and goblin masks and plastic spiders and bats, and who treat Halloween as the harmless event that it really is, are now annoyed that the school might cancel all Halloween-related events because one or two parents, in response to this letter, complain to the head and demand that such activities are stopped right away.

    Besides, although it’s true that Halloween is of pagan origin, so is Christmas and Easter. That’s where the tree and the tinsel and the candles and the chocolate eggs and bunnies come from. In fact, I believe there isn’t a single special day in the Christian calendar which is not pagan in origin, including our local Imnarja and Ħġejjeġ ta’ San Ġwann and the international “Saint” Valentine’s day and carnival, and even the choice of Sunday to replace the Sabbath.

  • Kevin Wain

    I believe that there were two main reasons for people acting the way they did. I think the first one would be that people speak and, consider facebook and blogs a good enough medium for self-expression. I do not thing think that non-Catholics are much affected by what Fr. Kalcedon has said, but feel all the same that their opinion is important and must be manifested. Then there are those who are annoyed by the influence that the Catholic Church enjoys on Maltese society in general and the political stength they have and, consider such opportunities as a good enough excuse to express their frustration. I would argue that the Church would do good for themselves if they are careful when coming up with letters, they shouldn’t come across as extremist and, should be careful in the way they word their arguments. Secularists and non-believer must, on the hand, be more tolerant and, recognise the fact that what Fr. Kalcedon has said was intended from Catholic consumption.

  • Jean Gove’

    Even from a Catholic viewpoint, it is very odd that Halloween is singled out as some kind of satanic festival, and the whole affair smacks of sensationalism, a poor intellect (which is even odder if Fr. Kalċedon is a serious theologian), and some of the Protestant fundamentalist attitude one would expect to find in the US.

    Why is carnival off the hook as a pagan feast during which kids wear costumes of vampires and ghosts? Why are the local feasts off the hook, feasts which have in some cases become the locus of every kind of pagan behaviour? Why is Christmas off the hook as a feast which the Christians took from the pagans, and which the “pagans” of the day are re-converting into a pagan holiday? Isn’t our society replete with pagan feasts which either are harmless or are a reflection of the times.

    This is why the letter smacks of sensationalism, and more questions along this line of inquiry should have been put to Fr. Kalċidon. Just because someone is Catholic does not mean that he should swallow anything a priest says without a reasonable explanation. And the letter requires a LOT of explanation, such as where does sadistic pornography ever get a mention in a Halloween party, for example? To simply explain something as silly as this by saying that it was intended only for Catholic consumption should offend greatly any educated Catholic.

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