The organisers of Valletta’s Holy Week processions call on the authorities to issue assurances that there will be no repeat of the shameful disruption that took place during last week’s processions during which catering establishments placed tables along Merchants Street and played loud music in flagrant breach of the law.
A spokesperson for the Archconfraternity of the Miraculous Crucifix and the Franciscan convent, which manages the Ta’ Giezu church, said:
“Participants were not just obstructed by owners and patrons of catering establishments. Music was played outside the churches as people were praying and we were taunted. One man even thrust his hand into a lady’s face after she asked him to move aside to allow the procession to proceed through the crowded street.
“We cannot but condemn the blatant disregard of lawfully-obtained permits that were supposed to ensure the events could take place in a serene and fitting atmosphere. We would also like to ask the authorities why they were not present to uphold the law as they are with other public manifestations.”
The organisers sent an e-mail to both the police and the Lands Authority – responsible for issuing the permits – after the first breach of regulations occurred during the evening of Our Lady of Sorrows on March 31.
The police responded on April 2 – copying the Lands Authority into the correspondence – confirming that breaches had occurred and that no enforcement officers from the Authority had been on site.
However, despite calls from the police for the Lands Authority to make good for the situation, the breaches recurred on April 6, Maundy Thursday – when the faithful traditionally make visits to seven churches and express devotion to the revered 17th century crucifix at Ta Giezu – and on Good Friday, April 7, when once again enforcement officers were absent.
The spokesperson said: “The Holy Week processions are a long-standing cultural tradition in Malta, which attract scores of faithful and onlookers. Do the authorities, who are going to great lengths to promote religious tourism, really wish to sell our enviable heritage down the river for a few pieces of silver?
“We are not anti-business. We live alongside the hustle and bustle and noise every day. We are just appealing for common sense to prevail on three evenings of the year that have a special place in the hearts of many Maltese.”