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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

Not Gonzi’s church, but neither Cremona’s

God forbid we have a return to Archbishop Gonzi’s church – but I am not comfortable with Cremona’s either: I want a church that is a leading protagonist in society and not conspicuous by its silence

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
25 April 2014, 7:22am
I disagree with the Church on certain issues – but I interested in its views and ideas because I believe that a strong society benefits from a proactive Church
I disagree with the Church on certain issues – but I interested in its views and ideas because I believe that a strong society benefits from a proactive Church
Bishop Charles Scicluna is right: the autonomy between Church and State should be respected at all times. It would be disastrous for the Church, but especially for our society were this autonomy to be breached – as happened in the past.

However, and this is where, I believe the Bishops are missing the point, autonomy between Church and State does not, and should not mean a silent Church, especially on matters which are, and will have a deep impact on our society. What we lack today is a Church which is an active participant – a worthy protagonist in a society which is changing and doing so at a fast pace.

God forbid we return to Archbishop Mikiel Gonzi’s Church, when Labourites were refused confession, members of my family included, because they read the Labour Party newspaper ‘il-Helsien’. As a young Maltese-European I want a Church which is proactive and a worthy protagonist of our society. I want a proactive Church, as much as I want a proactive civil society.

"Very soon we shall be discussing drug decriminalization – and about time, too – I expect the Church to take an active part in this discussion, which is crucial considering its experience and expertise in the field."
Many have described the Church’s silence during the civil unions debate, (and no, a pastoral letter by our bishops does not constitute a proactive role in 21st century Malta) as ‘correct’ because ‘the church has learnt from its past mistakes’. I have no doubt that the Church did learn from its past mistakes – including the recent divorce debate which caught the Maltese Church by surprise and extremely unprepared. The language many priests used during the divorce debate did untold harm to the Church in Malta. But that is no excuse for the Church to be silent, or extremely wishy-washy on matters such as the civil unions’ debate.

I have already expressed my support for the civil unions’ law, and would have preferred the PN to vote in favour – although I understand the abstention because government should have separated civil unions from adoption by gay couples.

But that is now water under the bridge – and whilst the PN has a lot of soul searching to do, so does the Church. The Church, in Malta, has crawled back into its shell – probably afraid that by being at the forefront of civil rights, and other major issues, it risks irking its followers and losing its flock further. That will only happen if the Church is not prudent and responsible in its approach. People expect the Church to be one of the major protagonists in society – what they don’t want is a Church which tries to impose its beliefs in a secular society.

Very soon we shall be discussing drug decriminalization – and about time, too. The Church’s contribution, through its agency Caritas, is commendable. I, now, hope, and expect the Church to take an active part in this discussion, which is crucial considering its experience and expertise in the field.

I expect the Church to be vocal and express itself clearly on environmental issues – especially when unsustainable development is proposed by the government.

I appreciate the sterling service given by the Church in Malta to third-country nationals, but I do expect the Church to be at the forefront of an awareness campaign to explain that migration can be, and is an opportunity, not only to migrants themselves but to our country, and society too.

Speaking to Reporter, Bishop Scicluna said that the bishops’ rather muted statement on MPs legislating for civil union reflected a “cautious, respectful” position adopted by the Maltese Catholic archdiocese. I beg to differ. Cautious and respectful does not mean a silent church – but a proactive Church which expresses its views diligently, and respectfully. I’m sure that Bishop Scicluna himself could have given excellent contribution to the civil unions’ debate, which would have been appreciated by many, myself included, who are in favour of civil unions for gay couples.

I disagree with the Church on certain issues – but I interested in its views and ideas because I believe that a strong society benefits from a proactive Church.

God forbid we have a return to Archbishop Gonzi’s Church – but I am not comfortable with Archbishop Cremona’s Church, either. I want a Church which is one of the leading protagonists in society – and not a Church conspicuous by its silence.  

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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