State should uphold duty to ensure stable families - Azzopardi

The state should uphold its social responsibility and play a direct role in preparing couples for marriage and not abdicate its duty in this regard, says Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi.

Speaking in parliament during the ongoing divorce debate on Monday 7 March, Azzopardi said that he could not understand how Maltese state has not assumed responsibility of participating in the preparation of couples about to get married..

“That responsibility was abdicated and left to the hands of the church,” he maintained, adding that because of this, “not everyone takes them seriously – and we cannot oblige them to.”

“But if the state feels that families are so important for the solidarity and stability of Malta, shouldn’t the state also participate in the proper preparation of couples for marriage?”

He also claimed that current statistics on the subject are flawed and a measured and reasoned debate required reliable statistics.

He claimed that the percentage that 22% of Maltese families are broken down and separated was incorrect and represented “intellectual dishonesty”. The true figure, he claimed, was either 3% (when compared to the whole population) or 7% (when compared to the total number of married couples).

He also said how, despite being exposed to Roman, French, and English legal systems during Malta’s time as a colony, the country’s legal system had never felt the need to absorb the concept of divorce.

Azzopardi also hit out at the proposed question, saying it is simplistic loaded, and leaves out issues and considers that are crucial to the ‘identity’ of divorce.  “It will not help the people to vote on an issue in a manner that does the population justice,” he said.

Azzopardi also countered claims that the majority was imposing their morality on others, he said that such thinking represented a dictatorship of relativism and that there is also the social reality that the debate needs to consider.

He referred to the experiences of other countries that had opted to introduce divorce, pointing to “the explosion of social benefit costs, and drastic drops in marriages” as the effects of such laws.

He also claimed that studies show a link between divorced parents and criminality within youth, as well as links between increased social benefits and divorce.

In his own address, Nationalist MP Robert Arrigo remarked how the divorce debate had become a game between political players. “We have entered a situation where the political mileage has been put above the issue,” he said.

He maintained the issue should not be turned into a political issue that parties should not be turned into a political ball, and that debate should be measured and meaningful, not for politicians to parade in front of the media and on the headlines.

He also raised concerns that the children involved will be “voiceless” in the issue, as nobody is so far representing their interests in the ongoing debate.

During his own address, Labour MP George Vella reiterated more than once that is against divorce, but that, at the same time, one must recognise the current reality and keep one’s feet grounded in the present.

He said that, in the face of families that have broken down and are suffering because of it, “we cannot expect to think as if we are in some heaven and act as if others are not suffering due to the current situation.”

He added that while his convictions are of the Catholic persuasion, “my job is not simply to represent Catholics in parliament.”

He also drew attention to the inherent ‘contradiction’ of how while the government was opposing divorce on moralistic and ethical grounds, nothing at all was heard with regard to cohabitation – something that is roundly condemned on moral principles by the Christian faith.

He also hit out at the way individuals can obtain a divorce abroad, pointing out that government had never found a problem with this situation and had never attempted to rectify it, either.

He also dismissed arguments that divorce is against the common good, describing these as ‘logical acrobatics’. “So it is fine to be in a broken marriage and separate, but suddenly it is against the common good to break up that marriage?” he asked.

“Are children not already suffering when they see their families breaking down?” he also asked, reacted to concerns that children would be further harmed through the introduction of divorced.

Speaking in parliament, Labour MP Justyne Caruana also maintained that if divorce ideally were to be introduced into Malta’s legal system, “it should be part of a holistic effort towards strengthening family.”

She hit out at government’s “hypocrisy in claiming that it is opposing divorce because it is protecting the family, as it itself is the biggest threat to the family in recent years.” She maintained that never before have the family been under greatest threat and the country is witnessing “a record” in family break up numbers.

She maintained that we cannot sweep our problems under the carpet. “I am determined that if we keep sweeping problems under carpet we would be adopting an ostrich mentality and approach top politics.”

Caruana also hit out at Dolores Cristina’s claims that divorce would harm children, claiming that her position shows that she possesses no knowledge “on the ground.”

She maintained that as far as children are concerned, it doesn’t matter whether we are talking of separation, annulment, of divorce, because what matters to them is a loving nurturing family.

The question is what is government doing for these children? “There is a lot of suffering among children that is due to their parents and family breaking up.” She referred to comments that said this damage lasts for longer than 40 years of suffering – this, she said, to government means nothing, it seems.

She said that despite how Malta’s legal system supposedly deems the children as most important, “the system often allows them to become a weapon in the hands of the children, children do not have any voice,” and also how they are not protected by a supposed Commissioner for Children.

She maintained that the PN shouldn’t have taken a stance and bound its MPs to speaking in a certain way and adopting a certain position, and augured that should the referendum approve the introduction of divorce, this would lead to a responsible approach to divorce legislation.

In his address, Nationalist MP Philip Mifsud said the PL’s position on the referendum was one of convenience. He also said that the Opposition had a blemished record with regard to referendums, also citing the Labour Party’s reactions to the EU accession referendum result.

He questioned whether the Opposition “would measure the result with the yardstick of 8 years ago, or would it conveniently adopt a new yardstick, as convenience dictates.”

He also reiterated the PN’s arguments that, aiming to undermine the PL’s position on divorce, refer to statements made by PL Leader Joseph Muscat wherein he said that divorce should be introduced by parliament, and not by referendum.

and what about the the maltese law is an insult to the people: a woman for example, is left by her man than that man goes to live with his new love, they starts a new relationship and builds a new family- you know that the first woman is till married by law to that man? or vice versa, a woman leaves her man and start a new family with kids with a new man. they will stil eb like married to the law ,just seperated. thats an insult.
I have said this before and will keep saying it...What if it was you who was in this situation? Your marriage is on the rocks, there was no chance of reconsilliation, your children are being used as a weapon, your religious beliefs are being used as a tool against you. Would you still wish or want to stay tied to a person who you couldn't stand anymore? I am happily married and do not wish for a divorce, but I can see and understand that there are others for whom the best solution is a clean break.
*** Dear people from all over the world*** Please , read what Malta's members of parlament, say in our parlament! Are these people intelligent? I think they aer so proud that they are not seeing that when they are speaking they are so ridiculous! ** this is one* I cannot belive that these are Malta's member of parlamnets.. well sorry , I just had my coffee , but I cannot stop laughing with this statement* ***Speaking in parliament during the ongoing divorce debate on Monday 7 March, Azzopardi said that he could not understand how Maltese state has not assumed responsibility of participating in the preparation of couples about to get married..** the state make a preparation for those who are going to get maried? lolllllllllllllllllllll I try to hold my words here... Mr.Azzoppardi, are you a 7 year old boy? who can prepare others? the state? grown up people knows what they ned to do- if you do them a programme yes they may attend- but in the end it is they ,who needs to work things out, in every situation in their life- people change , and we all know that, and we all know humans knows how to LIE! so it depends on themselves to see how they mature in life- people get their knowledge from their families, from childhood trough adulthood.. i stop Mr.Azzoppardi, How can you be so ridiculous, sorry but i cannot hold, yes you are indeed.. telling adults what to do or teach them lollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll its like the Cana movement , they have some courses, it's been theer for many years, and you come out with such ignorance- couples goes their yes , but to just make the programme, so they can marry- mostly of them, they just do that- I SAY THAT WHOEVER CHEATS ON HIS PARTNER, HE OR SHE NEVER REALLY LOVED THAT PERSON- who really loves his partnet never cheats on him or on her. respect and loyalty and faith are -love- who ever mistretaed his partner , especially cheating on her or on him- than that was never love- I have my doubts that soem people knows what is really Love- is it, the house? the car? than you are far from knowing what is love.. well mr.azzoppardi :) pls see hwo you talk in the parlament :) tonio fenech austin (powers) gatt and lawrence gonzi are too pride, to see the reality. they became so proud with all these years in high postition- with their proud they think , that they know better, when in reality ,thye are being seen so ridiculous, and with their words- thye have and are condemning their political party.. I am not a startegist who is being payed thousands of euro, to give advices to a political party.. But i have been seeing the ups and downs in politics since 1987, every election I have predicted it, mark my words this next election , will be the biggest defeat of the PN- Lawrence gonzi ,tonio borg and austin (powers) gatt, with your pride ,you are not accepting that this will happen- but as they say , time will tell, and you will suffer and feel all your pride, turning into stone.
The statements made in this article are unbelievable. Its like Christopher Columbus discovering America again. Is it the not the same situation described in the article present with the number of annulments and seperations taking place right now. So how is Divorce going to change matters for the worse? No one has yet come up with the answer to this. In order to strengthen the family one must first of all encourage through economic measures that one of the partners in marriage stays at home and give family care to the children. Govourment has done the opposite and encouraged women to go out to work. Not that there is much choice these days with the cost of living going up and up. Marriages are more likely to break down under economic pressure. What difference is it going to make for those couples who have broken up if they get seperated or divorced. The only difference is the chance of remarrying again. Is that such a bad idea??