Paola Priest Defends Plans for Basilica Cafeteria to Fund Urgent Restoration

The parish priest of Paola plans to open a cafeteria and gift shop in the Christ the King Basilica to fund urgent restoration work, sparking debate over balancing sanctity and practical needs for historic churches.

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Ayesha Mumtaz
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Paola Priest Defends Plans for Basilica Cafeteria to Fund Urgent Restoration

Paola Priest Defends Plans for Basilica Cafeteria to Fund Urgent Restoration

The parish priest of Paola, Fr. Marc Andre Camilleri, is defending plans to open a cafeteria and gift shop in the Christ the King Basilica to generate funds for urgent restoration work on the historic church building . The plans have faced some criticism, including from Malta's Prime Minister who said churches should not be "ruined" by such projects.

Fr. Camilleri explained that the basilica, which is the largest church in Malta, has serious external structural damage and is in need of repairs. However, donations from the congregation barely cover the church's staffing costs, leaving little money for the upkeep of the building. "I need to find alternative ways to generate income for the restoration of the basilica," said Fr. Camilleri.

The proposed project would convert two belfry towers into a seven-level interpretation center with a cafeteria on the roof over the portico entrance and a gift shop. Fr. Camilleri clarified that the cafe would not be on the actual roof of the basilica as some have claimed.

"I don't think God will be offended by this project, as it is a church built in his honor and for the service of the community," Fr. Camilleri said in response to the criticism. "I disagree that the church would be ruined by these plans."

The priest said the cafeteria and gift shop are necessary to raise the funds required to repair and maintain the basilica. The plans appear to be gaining support within the Paola community, despite the Prime Minister's objections.

Why this matters: The situation highlights the challenges many historic churches face in funding costly restoration work to preserve cultural and religious heritage sites. It also raises questions about balancing the sanctity of churches with practical needs to generate income for their upkeep.

Fr. Camilleri stressed that as the parish priest, he has a responsibility to ensure the basilica is properly maintained for future generations. "This church is an important part of Paola's history and the religious life of the community," he said. "We must find a way to fund the restoration so it can continue serving the people for many years to come."

Key Takeaways

  • Paola priest defends plans to open cafe, gift shop in basilica
  • Funds needed for urgent restoration work on historic church building
  • Proposed project would convert belfry towers into interpretation center
  • Priest says cafe not on basilica roof, disagrees church would be ruined
  • Situation highlights challenges historic churches face in funding restoration