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.