MGRM on the defensive over Bishop’s nomination for community award

Organisation will host meeting for members of the LGBTI community to express themselves over selection of Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna

Bishop Scicluna is a nominee for the award as he received sufficient votes in the online and sub-committee votes. The MGRM said it wanted to preserve the integrity of the selection process and the trust placed by voters.
Bishop Scicluna is a nominee for the award as he received sufficient votes in the online and sub-committee votes. The MGRM said it wanted to preserve the integrity of the selection process and the trust placed by voters.

Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna has not yet answered to an invitation to the LGBTI Community Awards 2014 gala, after he was nominated by the public and committee vote for the spiritual-religious person category.

The nomination of Scicluna, currently leading the Maltese archdiocese following the retirement of Archbishop Paul Cremona, sparked great debate over the inclusion of a Catholic leader in the gay community awards.

But in a statement, the Malta Gay Rights Movement defended its ‘spirituality and religion’ category, which has also nominated Dominican monk and philosopher Mark Montebello for a community award.

The movement was reportedly flooded with vocal criticism of the nomination, leading the MGRM to organized a meeting for the LGBTI community this week to express themselves over the selection.

“Spirituality and religion have a positive impact on many peoples’ lives. Just as in the heterosexual community, also for some LGBTI people religion and faith are an important part of their identities. Hence, we support the efforts of LGBTI people who wish to be accepted within their faith communities,” MGRM said in a statement.

By Scicluna was also, by admission of MGRM, outspoken in his opposition to equal treatment of LGBTI persons.

The gay rights movement said the bishop had received sufficient votes in the online and sub-committee votes, and in a final review, it was decided not to exclude him to preserve the integrity of the selection process. “Secondly... we have indeed seen a marked improvement in the quality and tonality of communication from the Catholic Church more generally in relation to issues affecting the LGBTI Community.”

The MGRM said it hoped Scicluna accepted its “gesture of friendship and dialogue” and attend the gala awards.

The group admitted that a number of people from the LGBTI community have been quite vocal in their opposition to the nomination to Bishop Scicluna. Gay activist Joseph Carmel Chetcuti wrote in MaltaToday criticizing the nomination. “I may have missed something but does Scicluna no longer consider homosexuality intrinsically disordered? Is he now saying that gay men and lesbians, as individuals and couples, should be allowed to adopt children and that it is in the interest of children to have gay and lesbian parents?”

The MGRM on its part said that it recognized the Catholic Church as the largest provider of spiritual and religion-related services in Malta, and the educator of 35% of the children in Malta and a significant provider of social services to children, youth and the elderly.

“While it is undeniably an organisation with deep flaws, it also does great good,” the MGRM said, adding that it hoped to see the Catholic Church slowly change its position on homosexuality.

“We expect that as scientific evidence continues to build that LGBTI orientations are a natural variation in human sexuality, just like blue eyes are a natural variation in eye colour, the Catholic Church will also integrate these insights into its workings. Just like it dropped its opposition to Galileo Galilei’s insights into heliocentrism over time and 359 years after committing Galileo unjustly to house arrest, apologised for its handling of the matter, we believe that at some time in the future the Catholic Church will want to apologise to the LGBTI community for its current and historic discriminatory and exclusionary approach.”

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