Maltese YCW chaplain and sociologist, Fr Joe Inguanez, 80, has died while swimming at a beach in Gozo.
Fr Inguanez, who was born in Ħal-Għaxaq in 1943 and ordained a priest in 1970, “was an intellectual whose gentle yet uncompromising views of society and Catholicism in modern-day Malta won him plaudits from those whose attention he commanded,” writes Matthew Vella at Malta Today.
“Having headed Discern, a Catholic think-tank that used applied research to keep guiding the Maltese Church, Inguanez, who lectured at the University of Malta’s Department of Sociology and had also been its head of department, became a prominent cleric in Maltese society,” he continues.
“Apart from his towering persona in his field of academia, Inguanez stood apart from many of his fellow clerics for promoting an intellectual criticism of the Maltese Catholic Church.h
He was also spoke out against what he saw as lack of leadership in the Church
“I honestly feel that the Maltese Church is at a standstill. This is always dangerous but much more so in times of the rapid change we are experiencing at both the ecclesial and social sphere,” Inguanez had said at a time of historic reforms in civil liberties,
“One cannot stop one’s boat in a flowing river. Critical decisions need to be taken urgently. However, blood-letting is not a solution. While every Christian has to take an action – even through the promotion of healthy public opinion – the institutional leadership of the Church needs a shake-up.”
“In Malta, we need to re-create the conscience of Vatican Council II. The Church still needs updating. Change is a neutral concept and instead of being afraid of it we should turn it into a positive dynamic of our being both at the material and spiritual level… This is what Pope Francis is not simply telling us to do, but is also showing us how to do it by his example.”
He believed the Maltese Church had to emphasise social issues like immigration. “On immigration, the Church in Malta is doing a lot when it comes to hands-on assistance and this is in line with Pope Francis’s message. What it should do more is by way of denunciation of the policies which exclude migrants.”
He also insisted that the Church’s critique should address both Malta’s actions and the European Union’s. “We need a critique of what the European Union is doing with regards to these human beings. Individualism has made us very selective where human rights are concerned.”
“Fr Joe was a true Cardijn disciple, always concerned to promote the life and vocation of young workers, workers in general and the lay apostolate, particularly through his untiring support for the YCW,” ACI secretary, Stefan Gigacz, wrote in a message to the Maltese ZHN (YCW).
Fr Joe Inguanez / Malta Today