[WATCH] Catholic reference in constitution does not need to change but all religions welcome, Abela says

Prime Minister Robert Abela says everyone is free to practice any religion in Malta, even though the country shares values with Roman Catholicism

Prime Minister Robert Abela at Dar tal-Kleru
Prime Minister Robert Abela at Dar tal-Kleru

Malta will remain a secular state with the Roman Catholic faith firmly entrenched in the Maltese constitution, a document that still affords everyone religious freedom, Prime Minister Robert Abela said.

On Wednesday, Abela said on TVM’s Dissett that there was no reason why the constitution should not include Roman Catholicism as its official religion.

Asked whether this was a step back from the secular direction the country was heading in in recent years, Abela told MaltaToday that the direction will remain the same. 

“Malta is a secular state, but the constitution also affords a strong, fundamental freedom that everyone is entitled to his religion of choice,” Abela said. 

Abela was visiting Dar tal-Kleru, taking a tour of the clerical residency and meeting with Archbishop Charles Scicluna and ageing clerical residents who wished him well. 

While Abela did not say how the State could be kept wholly separate from religion given that the constitution affirmed Malta’s official faith, he said that everyone was free to practice any religion in Malta, even though the country shared values with Roman Catholicism. 

“While I believe in a secular society, where there is a distinction between the State and religion, and the autonomies are respected, we share common values and I wanted to send a message,” Abela said on his visit to Dar tal-Kleru. 

Abela also reiterated that whatever his cabinet ministers' position was on abortion, he would remain clear on the issue and that he was wholly against it. 

Arhcbishop Scicluna thanked Abela for his courtesy visit and revealed that it was Abela’s choice to meet at Dar tal-Kleru. 

“I appreciate his choice to meet here, one of the places where the church translates its words of wisdom into action, where ageing priests who gave their service are provided with care and treatment,” he said.