Sunday, 31 January 2010

Times: Muscat meets clergymen for 'frank exchange'
Sunday, 31st January 2010 by Mark Micallef

Clergymen have been invited to meetings with Joseph Muscat for a "frank exchange" on the Labour leader's political positions.

The initiative came from economist Mario Vella, an adviser to Dr Muscat, and who also heads the 'Thought and Action' think- tank within the party. He wrote to the priests telling them it would be useful to meet the person who could be leading the country in the coming years.

The meetings with the clergymen, which saw around 100 priests and Church functionaries in an exchange with the Labour leader during two meetings last month, form part of Dr Muscat's strategy to meet personally with representatives from the entire civil society.

The Church was the top priority, however. Dr Muscat has been pushing a liberal agenda on certain fronts which might see him at odds with the Church, particularly on the question of divorce - which he pledged to table in Parliament if elected Prime Minister.

On other issues, such as gay rights, he announced the setting up of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender section within the party.

One of the participants, Fr Peter Serracino Inglott, a long- time adviser to former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami, said the meeting he attended took the form of a question and answer session.

Divorce featured prominently during both sessions.

Comparing the event with a similar opportunity he had to question Dr Muscat, Fr Serracino Inglott said he felt the Labour leader had thought more deeply about issues raised by the audience.

The invitation urged those attending to "ask for explanations from Dr Muscat regarding his position on all of those things which, in your view, are crucial for the development of this society in the second decade of the 21st century and beyond."

"Like every genuine conversation, this meeting can and should lead to a free and constructive exchange of ideas which brings, participants closer to-gether even if not necessarily in agreement on everything," the letter stated.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times´ website.]

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