Cana president, 'Are marriages going to last until you're a size 10?'

The first televised debate between the two sides in the divorce referendum was held on PBS this evening.

As expected, guests Anna Vella and Bernard Gauci from the Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju, and Deborah Scehmbri and psychologist Charles Azzopardi from the Moviment Iva ghad-Divorzju, reiterated most of the arguments that punctuated the debate so far.

But Moviment Iva chairperson Deborah Schembri accused Anna Vella, the president of the Cana Movement, of ridiculing the debate when Vella said Zwieg bla Divorzju "believed in a lasting marriage, and not a state where people stay together until you are a size 10," she said, ostensibly addressing women.

MaltaToday reported the live recording at the PBS studios at 1:30pm.

Lawyer Bernard Gauci started off by claiming that the presentation of the divorce bill was “carried out in a hefty and uncalculated manner.”

“It is clear that it was done by emulation, without any studies of how divorce will impact on society. They did not wait for the census to see what the situation of the Maltese family is.”

Gauci said the pro-divorce lobby’s campaign was misleading: “The proposed bill has several defects and it is promoting a divorce without reason – giving the opportunity for someone to just up and leave for no reason at all.”   

He claimed that divorce will reduce marriages to a 'pretty package'. “Moreover, what guarantees do you have that your second marriage will work out?” Gauci said.

He added that divorce will attack “the model which is most close to my heart. It will ruin that marriage which is or could have been good.”

Reacting, psychologist Charles Azzopardi said the “lies are coming from the no camp”, adding that if family was so important, they should be investing money to protect it like they are investing money in their campaign.

Azzopardi said the Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju was depicting divorce as something “wrong… Have they forgotten that annulment exists in Malta? Children get hurt just the same, if not even more by annulment. How can a child understand that his or her parents’ marriage never existed?”

He added that for the children, whether it’s separation, annulment or divorce, do not distinguish the heartbreak that results from breakdown: “the hurt is still there”.

Anna Vella, the president of the Church's Cana Movement, said divorce would change the mentality of the Maltese towards marriage. “Today we believe in a marriage which lasts forever.”

Vella claimed that “thousands” of persons contacted the movement and said that even though they are separated, they do not want to get divorced: “’Why are they imposing the divorce on us?, they ask."

She said that professionals have spoken about divorce as something “contagious”. Vella claimed that studies reveal that people whose siblings are divorced are encouraged to follow suit.

“Is this what we wish for Malta? Two mums and two dads for each child? And if a man is not able to stick to his commitment during the first marriage, what will change in the second marriage?” Vella asked.

Moviment Iva ghad-Divorzju chairperson Deborah Schembri said at times she wondered whether “we are living in the same country or not – as if divorce will replace marriage.”

Schembri reiterated that divorce is simply a legal state of fact which shouldn’t be denied to those who need it. Schembri said she prefers the so called 'divorcist mentality' rather than a 'separatist mentality':  “If a marriage has failed and all possible means have been exhausted to reconstruct that marriage, why should they be forced to cohabit if they want to live in an environment which is responsible and regulated by law?”

Schembri added that whilst Malta should look at studies conducted abroad, a study showing how divorce would affect Malta would not have given the true picture. She said it would have been misleading as different societies react differently, as it all depends on the culture.

Whilst Schembri reminded that divorce right now is already available to those who can afford it from abroad, Vella retorted that if divorce is introduced, it will still remain available only for those who can afford it. “How will the divorcee be able to pay two bills and two rents?” she said.

Gauci rebutted claims by Azzopardi that "he didn't care" about broken marriages saying the pro divorce lobby could not guarantee that people would have a second chance that will last.

He claimed that in all countries where divorce was introduced, cohabitation and domestic violence increase. He suggested that divorce is an easy getaway: “It’s like you’re a rusted fridge that is no longer of use."

He added that the bill does not guarantee maintenance: “In separation cases last year, 80 men preferred to go to prison rather than pay alimony.”

Schembri retorted saying that it was useless scaremongering about the disappearance of maintenance and alimony. "There are penalties for spouses who refuse to pay maintenance."

She said that with divorce or not, people are still leaving their husband or wife and cohabiting with another partner and also have children. “At least, we are looking our for the interest of all children” – to which Gauci commented “which children?”

A visibly irked Schembri said she could not understand how a lawyer who should keep the best interest of children at heart, suggested that some children take precedence over others. “This is entirely misleading,” she said.

@piccinino Ara veru l'ispizjar milli jkollu jaghtik. Jekk IVA kieku qieshom il labour mela il LE propju l'Opus Dei ta' circa 1934-1938.
@Miriam Dalli - It should be Bernard Grech and not Gauci.
Joseph Galea
The guests Anna Vella and Bernard Gauci from the Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju rejected the accusation that they represent a movement that is negative in its approach and has nothing to offer those spouses whose marriage has failed. And yet in almost 30 minutes of empty rhetoric they did not explain how they expect a person, say, in his twenties, whose marriage has failed to spend the rest of his/her life. Cohabit? Sleep around? Live a life of abstinence? Become a monk or priest? Come on, speak up. If divorce is not a solution, what is your solution?
Meta tahseb li missew il-qiegh jivvintaw xi haga gdida. Fuq RTK kienu diga' qalu ohra redikola daqs din. Bi twegiba ghall-mara li cemplet biex tghid kif zewgha beda' jsawwata wara z-zwieg intqal: "Allura ghax ir-ragel jitfartas nitilqu?"
why is my fiance' marrying me in the first place? I'm a size 16!!! Pathetic!!
X ghandu x jaqsam is size ma relazzjoni!!!!!., bla dubju ahjar size 14 milli xi wahda bhal miss vella..... Ara vera trid tkun taliban biex relazzjoni twaqqahha biss fuq apparenza. Kemm inthom nies vojta u bla kuxjenza
What a pethetic bunch are the anti divorce brigade. For them it appears that love hasn't got much to do with a marriage, only the marriage certificate is what is important! Such lack of compassion and understanding and wanting to dictate and impose onto others thier warped beliefs is revolting. Is this what the catholic church capable of churning out?
Isabelle Borg
Dear Anne, I've been cohabiting with my partner for the last twelve years, when I met her she was a size ten. After bearing two children for me she is now a size sixteen, please be informed that I have no intention of leaving her because of her size as she still is the same wonderful person I met twelve years ago, so please stop making stupid arguments and face today's reality.
How I wish that Malta was not loaded with brainwashed and ignorants. How much harm the Church has done...and is still doing. Nothing is forever is this world...not even marriages. Jesus himself said to do not attach yourself to anything which is made in this world for Heaven is not of this earth. Be tolerant and compassionate towards thy your neighbor...VOTE YES in the referendum. That is the only way you can show that you are a follower of Jesus.
Thanks God: it was good to hear Mr Charles Azzopardi, a professonal ,talk about the subject. The idea that lawyers know it all -is one of the reasons why nothing concretly ever happens in Malta. Bla bla bla all the time....' jifmhu f'kollox' and they quote the same sixth form books, and the same old fashioned 'sappi tutto' tutors at the university.
all are different, Every person is different, there is noone the same as anyone. Who has nothing to hide, who is not trying to decieve, Knows that the most horrible situation for the children or one of the spouses , to suffer is, "IN A BAD MARRIAGE". the seperation, annulment or divorce, which are all and have all the same effects on all, is a continuation of a bad marriage. I know what I am saying , I am speaking of facts which I know, "I know children personally , that after seperation , they are far more better, than thye were living with both parents, They have and are doing great at school etc... the more years passed , the more they flourished, in school behaviour, school exams ,everything. Who says Marriage is forever? We also want to live forever, at least I think many wish that. I am happy for those who have a REAL good strong marriage, not because they have the ring in their finger, but to those "Who LOVE each other with respect" YES , I congratulate them! Ofcourse they exists, Nothing in this world is all good or all bad. But, Not all Marital breakdowns, do not deserve a second chance, "How can you say that? What heart you have in your chest? Of STONE? In our Life , I think we all deserves a second chance to the greatest thing called "LOVE" Without Love you have nothing. I am in no cohabitation, Nothing from all this.But , WHY , WHY Do you insist of saying NO? It's the heart of stone, the jealousy, the selfishness, that you have , that makes you say NO. I challenge anyone from the NO Movement, That I personally Knows children , that after seperation, from a disastrous marriage since the begining, which was done with lies and decieve, they have flourished and are happy more than ever, doing great at school in everything. "Imagine yourself, in a family , full of anxiety, how would you feel? it's not the children only , who suffers, NO! Even a man or a woman can suffer, who has a heart of flesh suffer... feels.. Even the man or the woman , flourishes .. with time.. after living in a bad marriage.. Who has feelings, who has compassion towards others, let's make the difference by voting YES. If your man or your woman have love and respect for you, he/she will never leaves you. All these and those in the future who seperated, the truth is , "That the marriage was never good,one of the spouses never really loved the other spouse". many can marry for different reasons, many don't even know or at least to understand . The church has every right to speak, like ,me ,you and everybody. But not a crusade. EveryOne do something for a purpose, Noone ever do soemthing for NOTHING! There is always a reason, why the church have gone so far. It's the power to control. If NOT, "Why they did the marriage concordat with the maltese PN Goverment?:) Because they are the keepesr of the morality? no, because the family which is the nucleus of the society, they want to take control.To Gain to keep control over the society. I Believe that every maltese citizen, knows and has the right to live his/her life , Take away our hearts of stone, and give us a heart of flesh. A Yes Vote to implement a caring, concerned and compassionate response to marital breakdowns. I hope that you will make every effect to give a resounding YES on the 28th of May to civil rights, compassion,generosity and courageous concern
Take away our hearts of stone, and give us a heart of flesh. A Yes Vote to implement a caring, concerned and compassionate response to marital breakdowns. I hope that you will make every effect to give a resounding YES on the 28th of May to civil rights, compassion,generosity and courageous concern
Charles Azzopardi was brilliant. He projected just the right mix of reasoning and "anger" at the plight of those who need the relief of divorce. The less said about Gauci, the better.
Ardi, when maintenance has been discussed, the current status of cohabiting couples improved, the separation law updated (they have been, actually) and the useless pre-marriage courses somehow made useful (which I doubt they'll ever be) ... there will STILL be marriage break-downs, and there will STILL be those who would like to opt for divorce to enable them to try for a happy marriage once again. Voting yes will simply give these people the RIGHT to make their own relevant and personal choices, which RIGHT they should be given as mature adults who should have a say in how their lives are lived.
I have been listening to both sides and have tried to be as open minded as possible - I am happily married with a very religous husband whereas i am more liberal in my thoughts. Alot of my friends are seperated and I also meet many seperated couples due to my work so i do understand that not everyone is as fortunate as I. But I have a question to both sides - why are both just discussing ONLY divorse? (I am sure I will get many comments to this question...but do read on)...The debate is far more than this - there are so many problems that need to be discussed and if we really care about the family unit why are these not being discussed - lack of maintenance by spouses, improving the current status of cohabitating couples, improving the current law on seperation - so many items that need to be discussed but that are being put on the back burner because of the issue of divorse. Divorse will not solve these issues. There needs to be a concerted effort by all to help young couples make the right decision. Many still marry young and have children very young. What about improving the courses at Cana. I attended - it was truly a waste of time - my great aunt gave me more advice about keeping a happy home than they ever did. Unfortunately at this point neither side have shown me that they really care about marriage - its just become a political debate - and we seem to be forgetting that either way people will suffer. Shame we dont have an alternative vote this time around!!
Lawyer B Gauci has big gaps in his weak reasoning. He misleadingly said that if divorce is introduces it will give the opportunity for someone to just up and leave for no reason at all. Can this rather stupid lawyer understand that what he has said is what is happening at present in Malta? So divorce cannot introduce something that is already happening to 25% of marriages held in Malta. This miskin also ‘claimed’ that divorce will reduce marriages to a 'pretty package'. Isn’t this what is actually happening today? Divorce will change nothing. More stupid arguments sorry this lawyer cannot argue so let’s call it a statement - “Moreover, what guarantees do you have that your second marriage will work out?” Gauci said. Let’s ask Gauci the same question – WHAT GUARANTEES DO YOU AND YOUR KANNA MOVEMENT HAVE THAT YOUR F I R S T MARRIAGE WILL WORK. At present first marriages in Malta have a certified failure rate of at least 25% and going up. Anna Vella should be awarded the Gahan Malti award. She said that divorce will change the mentality of Maltese towards marriage. Do you know dear Anna that out of 100 new marriages there are 25 separations. So though we do not have a divorce legislation in Malta so many are separating and cohabiting. What is the mentality of these vis a vis marriage? But to crown it all this Gahan boasted that “THOUSANDS” of separated persons are contacting their movement that though they are separated they do not want to get divorced. Without knowing this is REALLY worrying. First of all she did not say how many of these thousands are cohabiting (why she did not specify). Be honest divorce is not being imposed on any one. One has to apply for divorce. Unintentionally these thousands expressed the latest trend that many are not even interested to get married, but prefer to do as Gonzi said that iz-zwieg isir gherusija. Cohabiting = gherusija; divorce may lead to remarriage.
... And Dr Anna's "Size 10" parting shot must be one of the silliest remarks I've ever heard in my life. Not that I was too surprised, I must say. . Yes, IVA won this debate hands down.
Seriously, keeping my bias at bay, Moviment Iva won this debate hands down. MAD 's spokespersons seemed to be trying to convince by sweeping the uncomfortable truth under the carpet. Furthermore they seemed to be totally ignorant of the fact that there are different types of families. Partial results IVA 1 - LE 0
Anna Vella and Bernard Gauci from the Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju seem to have a very biased and controlling view over what the concept of family means and what family may consist of. There seems to be no understanding that there are many types of family arrangements which are only undesirable if they are discriminated against. A & B come across as desiring to freeze all of Malta’s marriages because it gives them a sense of social stability. But they seem to be turning a blind eye to the realities of the social changes in Malta and globally. Malta is an island, yes, but sooner or later what happens in one country impacts on the other. I like this one: “It’s like you’re a rusted fridge that is no longer of use." Given a rusted fridge, one could pack the whole Moviment Zwieg bla Divorzju in its freezer ... until death parts them. No offence meant, Anna and Bernard. You sound like you really mean well, but to some people you do come across as ‘divorced from reality’ - as someone has already put it. Glorifying the family in the old fashioned sense of the word might just be a nostalgic exercise - hanging on to something that is metamorphosing right in front of your very eyes.
Great presentation by the IVA movement "IVA ghad-Divorzju, IVA ghaz-Zwieg". Sure that this first debate was won by the pro-divorce side.