The ceremony has attracted widespread criticism – but not because of the child labor.
Remember when Lamborghini built a one-off Huracan for Pope Francis? As much as we would love to see His Holiness being paraded in a V10 mid-engine supercar, he never intended to use it. Instead, the car was sold at a charity auction with his signature. It was a different story on the island of Gonzo in Malta, however, as a recently appointed priest, Father John Sultana, used a sports car to make a grand entrance in their inauguration ceremony. The priest was seen standing inside the cockpit a Porsche Boxster, but the car was not driving under its own power. Instead, it was pulled through the streets by 50 school children clinging onto ropes.
According to the Times of Malta, this type of parade has been a traditional celebration for some priests in the Gozo region of the country. Because of this, the event was widely criticized not because of the use of child labor but because the priest’s public use of the sports car appeared ostentatious.
René Camilleri, a theology professor at the University of Malta, branded the event as “a load of rubbish."
“I condemn whoever accepted that children pull this priest as he stood up in a Porsche”, he told Maltese radio program ONE Breakfast. “There’s a degree of emptiness in the Church right now and we cannot expect to attract people to us if we keep doing these sort of stupid things."
Zebbug councilor Sandra Grech was less critical of the controversial parade, however. "I know Fr. John Sultana well and I know his intentions weren’t to come off as ostentatious,” she said during the same program. “In fact, the Porsche belongs to his cousin. It wasn’t bad taste at all, and the Zebbugin were all really happy and the children enjoyed it so much, all dressed in white. Afterward, we all celebrated with a large cake baked by the parish church that broke a national record.”
When asked for comment about the negative reactions, John Sultana said: "I’m sorry, but to me, this simply isn’t an issue and certain comments being made are just not right."