THE TIMES OF MALTA
by Kristina Chetcuti
Parents of gay people say they are saddened by Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna’s comment that Catholic lawmakers who vote in favour of legislation would be committing a “gravely immoral” act. “We are very sad. We are sad that it had to come to this. Because we believe that all persons are children of God and we feel sad because we respect the Church,” a Drachma spokesman told Times of Malta yesterday. Drachma Parents is a Catholic organisation which supports parents who are finding it difficult to accept the sexual orientation of their children. The group, he said, was also upset about Mgr Scicluna’s reference to Pope Francis – who the Bishop claimed had been shocked by the Maltese Civil Union’s Bill.“He resorted to mentioning the Pope – to have the Pope shoved in your face in situations like this, is sad.”
Its sister organisation – Drachma – a Catholic organisation for gay people, said that there needs to be a distinction between the teachings of the Church and the policies of the State. “We were part of the consultative council that drafted this law and we agree with civil unions and gay adoptions,” said a spokesman, stressing that Drachma did not however want to get into a confrontation with the Church.
“We were not really astonished by Scicluna’s comments: he was reproducing the teachings of the Church. And even Pope Francis never formally went against the teachings of the Church – more than the content, he changed the tone,” he said. Homosexuality is not a curse. It’s a gift God gave us. Homosexuality, he said, is not a curse. “It’s a gift which the Lord gave us so that we can contribute to the Church in a different manner.”
MPs should take a decision based on what is best for the country based on facts. “Homosexual couples are already living together and children are already living with homosexual parents, so this is not a new structure, this is regularising their position to protect the rights of children.”
Neil Falzon, director of Aditus, a human rights NGO, said that human rights should be the driving force behind political decisions rather than morality. “The Church has an important voice in society and it’s free to express its opinions and to give guidance. However, on these issues we feel that the primary concern of our lawmakers in Parliament should be human rights,” said Dr Falzon.
Columnist Joe Borg, however, disagreed and insisted that gay marriage –“as the proposed legislation by Government will put into effect” – and adoptions by gay couples are not recognised as basic human rights. “They are civil rights recognised in less than two dozen countries out of the over 190 countries in the world. Even adoption by heterosexual couples is not recognised as a basic human right. The only basic human right at issue is the right of the child to have the best family possible,” he said. He stressed that Catholic politicians are duty-bound to give importance to the teaching of the Church while giving importance to the society’s particular needs at a particular point in time. Fr Borg also urged politicians to “give great importance” to the fact that there is “no electoral mandate for adoption by gay couples.” He defended Bishop Scicluna’s comment saying: “There is a basic human right to make a strong statement and even a bishop has that right”.
Dr Falzon, however pointed out that while the Church felt the need to use strong language against politicians voting for gay adoptions, it never felt the need to use similar language for politicians who have repeatedly retained a system whereby immigrant children are detained in appalling detention centres. “This is a much more pressing issue in which the Church should have an active role, rather than condemning politicians who want to grant broader human rights,” he said.