The tribe that lost its head

The Judicial Vicar’s recent warning to judges indicates that the Curia wants to retain its pervasive temporal power in Maltese society.

The warning given by the Judicial Vicar, Mgr Arthur Said Pullicino, to all those who ‘cooperate’ in the introduction of divorce – including judges who apply the law – would be ‘committing a grave sin’, confirms that the some in the Curia have lost their head over the divorce issue.

Of all the sins that members of the judiciary could be tempted to commit, the one that excited the Judicial Vicar most seems to be the potential one of a judge giving a divorce decree after divorce is introduced in Malta some time in the future!

As it so happens, the Director of the Public Registry already has the duty to register divorces decreed by foreign Courts. Does he deserve eternal damnation for this co-operation? Will the Curia refuse to administer the sacraments to this poor chap?

As it also happens, a Catholic in Australia who asks his bishop to start annulment proceedings in the Ecclesiastical Courts down under, is first asked to obtain a divorce from the Civil Courts before the proceedings for annulment are even started. This is because the Catholic Church in Australia dares not declare the annulment of a marriage that is still binding and valid in the eyes of the state. In that part of the world, the Church is subservient to the State that is obliged to maintain order in society, and not the other way round.

Applying the Judicial Vicar’s logic, the bishops of Australia are asking those of their flock who want to seek the annulment of their marriage to first go and make a sin by obtaining a divorce, in the process provoking the judge to sin as well!

The problem with the Maltese Curia is that it is not only out of step with the situation that Maltese society finds itself today, but also out of synch with how the Catholic Church behaves in other countries.

Dare I suppose that when a person dies and is judged by the good Lord, he or she will be first asked to produce his or her passport and if the passport is Maltese, the Lord will take a good look at the stern warnings of Mgr Said Pullicino before pronouncing judgment?

On the other hand, if the person has an Australian passport, perhaps no such acid test will be necessary. What if the person has dual nationality: Maltese and Australian? I suppose it all depends where his or her divorce was decreed, of course! Such short-sighted pronouncements as those uttered by Mgr Said Pullicino are doing untold harm to the Catholic Church in Malta.

The Monsignor also arrogantly remarked that ‘the Archbishop cannot say anything different’ presumably because the Monsignor thinks he possesses the infallibility of the Pope in his interpretation of God’s will of which he is the sole purveyor.

I pity the Archbishop who wants to adopt a prudent approach to the divorce issue, even though he has declared the Church can never accept divorce. He now finds himself surrounded by medieval thinkers who cannot believe that the temporal power the Maltese Curia has enjoyed in the past is slowly slipping from its hands.

Threatening people with moral sanctions shows that some in the Curia have lost all sense of direction and have resorted to scraping the bottom of the barrel. I have no time for these short-sighted people.

Yet this is a test for the Archbishop as well. Unless Mgr. Said Pullicino is asked to resign from his post, the fundamentalist and conservative element in the Maltese Church will not just commit suicide: it will bring the whole edifice tumbling down with it.

Metaphorically, of course!

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Dear Drinub No one from the clergy will respond to your questions - at least not openly. Those members of the clergy who have a heart could risk their very lives if they shoot the truth of their convictions. Then you've got clergy who aren't very bright and these guys just spew mindless and irresponsible nonsense - to put it mildly. Then you've got the Machiavellian operators behind the scenes. For your own sake, keep away from these guys lest they sponge up whatever decency you have and turn it into a wild rage – redder than their red fascia - as the ecclesiastical deceit becomes more fully exposed. The Church is crumbling hard and fast – faster than you can envisage but DO NOT expect its diehards to budge. Save your energy and your breath. Keep yourself safe and distanced well away from these dangerous species. They’re dangerous because if you start engaging with them, you will get nowhere except in a place where you end up with your intelligence insulted, your sense of decency bruised and your very soul exhausted. With the best of intentions from BeenThereDoneThatAndLearntMyLesson
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Mr Falzon complains that “Threatening people with moral sanctions shows that some in the Curia have lost all sense of direction”. But, at the same time, Mr Falzon threatens Church Authorities by insisting that “Mgr. Said Pullicino is asked to resign from his post”. Where is the consistency?
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I cannot fathom all this hullabaloo about divorce. After all, we shall be almost - if not definitely- the last country in the world to introduce it. Clearly, for those of us (really fewer than many pretend) who are practicing catholics, we do need to listen to the official pronouncements of our Archbishop, yet it is still commonsense to require such to be in consonance with the Catholic Church elsewhere - we are in the one, Roman Catholic Church of the USA and Australia, no? For the many others, the Church should not get into it at all - it is not her democratic business, we are no theocracy. Unquestionably, the state organs should work independently of any particular Church -be it Parliament, the Courts , the Registrar. The Church is not managing the State, and only harm is done if it assumes those powers. It seems we have not learned much from the damage of the sixties to our society
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David Gray
I really don't know where to start. a) Are we still in the sixties? b) Does the church remember the damage it caused with the Gonzi archbishop saga? c) Do they still think people are what they were in the sixties? d) What is the current archbishop going to do about it? e) Does the church hold double standards in correcting and punishing mistakes? f) Do they withold the commandments of honesty and penance they so whole heartedly preach upon us lesser beings ?? g) Do they know that the church is no longer regarded as the other government through lobying and coherstion ? The list of questions i have is interminable. Dear Said pullicino, Dear archbishop; if only i had wrote this in the sixties i'd be branded a heretic. Wakey Wakey Guys we fear no repurcussions at present date. The inqusition days are over. Earn respect, do not demand it !!!!!!!!!! Over and out. I hope someone from the clergy answers me!!!!!!!!!
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With respect to the Monsignor Said Pullicino, he is completely wrong on various counts. Let us consider that the Church Tribunal grants an annulment in a future state where divorce is enacted. To remarry a couple would need to obtain a divorce, otherwise they will be guilty of bigamy. Would a Judge commit a sin, if he grants the divorce. I honestly regret stating that these clerics are only embarrasing the Church, and a burden a liabilty in the Curia. Hope the Archbishop will give the Monsignor a dressing down.
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Joseph Sant
Mr Falzon thank you for pointing out procedures followed by the Catholic Church in matters of marriage breakdowns in Australia. Allow me to add that this is also the procedure followed in both the United States and Canada. The iter in such cases is normally personal separation, followed by divorce and then application for church annulment. And no one in their right minds even thinks of questioning this procedure - not even fervent Catholics. This I say from personal experience.
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I believe that the church has a right to voice its concerns about the issue of Divorce as this is against its teachings, what it dose not have a right to is to apply pressure by threatens other by grave sins. I am also concerned about the fact that the church in Malta seems to only voice its concern about Divorce & seems to forget all other issues like environment, poverty in our society & other issues that are eroding family welfare in our society. It would be better if the church launches an educational campaign in how one can make ends meet as materialism & excessive consumerism has taken over.
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Both Church and State in such a confined space as Malta use the same currency (human resources ) when it comes to their daily transactions. It is always the same people alternating according to opportunities presented to them. Why do we never look into our true history? Mostly because it is more convenient to pull wool over people's eyes. The same people who may find it fruitful to side by the Church and profit by it will flank other quarters when it has a better deal.
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I agree with you on this dr.Michael falzon , well said....(Lost Their Heads).....we need new people who leads us with todays needs not in Constantine time ;-)
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to aleo2 - no contribution from the church is required - none at all - The state is perfectly capable of developing family friendly and child protective legislation on its own. Defering to the church for such advice and influence is abrogating its responsibility to the citizens - whether catholic or not.
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Mybe we should be encouraging all of the chruch fundamentalists to continue interfering in this State issue and contribute to its ultimate destruction. Let them continue and let them tumble down
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Donella Agius
It is quite clear that many maltese are happy to be called "cafeteria catholics", which means they pick what pleases them from the catholic faith and still feel comfortable to call themselves catholics. Jesus words were always clear. He never sought popularity. He only said the truth.
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duncan abela
Let us hope that the outrageous statements made by the Mons are just the last gasps of the old Church guard. There is still part of the local church which still cannot accept that the days of controlling and determining people's attitudes and moralities or worse still of influencing secular institutions is long come. If the threats made by the Mons on our judiciary were to be taken seriously then we should be in the middle of a constitutional crisis in the relations between church and state. However all true secularists should be prudent in their assessment for the signals coming from the Bishop and his younger advisors are much more prudent and measured. I feel that while theologically the church may not be able to agree to divorce, once lay society has decided to introduce divorce it would have an important contribution to give in the formulation of the divorce law to make it as family friendly and child protective as possible.
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Alfred Galea
Much ado about nothing....not too many people still care what any of these learned people say these days. Waste of oxygen.
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Tony Borg
The Inquistion has raised its head
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Georgette Bezzina
It would be interesting to know how old is Mgr. Arthur Said Pullicino. I was under the impression that the old guard has passed away. If the Archbishop is not going to raise up to his challenge; the churches would be the end looser.
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Joseph Pellicano
kemm hajdumu jahsbuna mozz dawn in nies, majafux li zminom ghada u madniex nibzaw mil babaw
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Isabelle Borg
Is'nt it a crime to threaten people? Very good article Mr.Falzon
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It is no wonder why the church is losing its popularity, a simple priest who happens to be outspoken on civil/religious matter si chastised , reported to his supperiors at the vatican then packed off to Mexico and big shot like his excellency mons Said Pulicino or Mons Gouder are left to preach fire and brimstone sending us back to the middle ages. Not only is the church losing revenue but even followers.
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Well said Mr Falzon......the more they speak about the issue of divorce the more they harm the Catholic Church.
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Mr Falzon you hit the nail on the head. Prosit