Malta writes to Holy See to commence revision of 1992 agreement

Government to take away Ecclesiastical Tribunal's authority on annulments - Eddie Fenech Adami: 'Agreement was historic and worked'

Pier Luigi Celata, the papal nuncio who negotiated the 1992 agreement.
Pier Luigi Celata, the papal nuncio who negotiated the 1992 agreement.

The Maltese government has sent a note verbale to the Holy See's nuncio, so that negotiations start with the Vatican on a revision of the 1992 Church-State agreement that gave the Ecclesiastical Tribunals authority over the dissolution of Catholic marriages.

Under the agreement, the civil courts had to stay any proceedings for the annulment of marriages contracted in the Catholic Church if one of the spouses initiated separate proceedings for an annulment from the Roman Curia. The ecclesiastical tribunal's decision would then have to be considered final by the civil courts.

The agreement was sealed by prime minister Eddie Fenech Adami and foreign minister Guido de Marco back in 1993, a year after the Treaty, but since his election, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he would revise the agreement.

The 1993 agreement on church tribunals [Google Docs]

Muscat has already had talks with Archbishop Paul Cremona and Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna. "The Maltese government believes the civil courts must be the supreme entity in marriages so that there can be a separation of church and state. There is a similar will to have a satisfactory agreement between the government and the church," the foreign ministry said today in a statement.

Asked for comment, Eddie Fenech Adami said the 1992 agreement was "a historic one".

"I believe the agreement was historic and that it also worked. I don't see the need for radical changes unless they are small. We will have to wait and see the substance of these changes."

In 1991, Guido de Marco and Eddie Fenech Adami negotiated the Church-State agreement with the Papal Nuncio, which resulted in the subordination of marriage laws to the Ecclesiastical Tribunal. Effectively, any procedures commenced within the tribunal by a couple already undergoing a marital separation in the Civil Courts, would automatically annul the civil proceedings.

A second additional protocol was signed in January 1995.

The agreement also laid to rest the Church school feud of the 80s, by guaranteeing free education and government subvention of the Church schools.

The agreement also led to the creation of the Joint Office, for the transfer of church-owned lands to the government.

Malta introduced divorce in 2011, paving the way for an obvious revision of the 1992 agreement.

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Il-Knisja ta Malta kull ma tiffranka ftit flus. ahjar l-ewwel irranga l-qrati tieghu imbaghad jiehu tal-Knisja! Insomma Deborah issa ma nahsebx li ser tkun affettwata ghax sa fejn naf jien ministri u segretarji parlamentari ma jaghmlux xoghol privat. Nistennew u naraw.
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The agreement was historic all right Eddie. It sent our nation back to the dark ages effectively making us a Vatican satellite state. Civil cases were postponed sine die until the Ecclesiastical tribunal decided - and the tribunals took long.....generally quite a few years. It is high time the balance was redressed and needless suffering made a thing of the past. Thank you Joseph Muscat.
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Why ask Eddie to comment ? is he the church's representative in Malta? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The last time I saw him , he was addressing a partisan political meeting with the now Leader of the opposition Lawrence Gonzi! ____________________ It worked for the Fenech Adamis who always had connections with the Curia and had no problems getting "ANNULMENTS.... not like the rest of us at the mercy of bureaucracy, and under the table settlements!