Sunday, 31 January 2010

Times: Strengthening family ties
Sunday, 31st January 2010 by Fr Joe Borg

The concept of the family as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman based on marriage is essential for society and should be helped by the State.

Should President George Abela be seen but not heard, as though he were a naughty 10-year-old boy? And when he opens his mouth is he expected to echo what the government wants to say? I am no constitutional lawyer so I would rather let experts discuss that issue. But I am under the impression that he knows something about the subject and only speaks on what he knows to be within his remit.

Abela's recent address to the highly successful national conference on the family organised by the Ministry for Social Policy together with the speech he delivered last October to the international Doha colloquium held in collaboration with the Cana Movement, gives us a clear picture of his ideas on marriage and the family.

It is clear that Abela strongly favours the concept of the family as we have known it for generations. "The family is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman that can result in the procreation of children." This arrangement is based on marriage and is essential for society. It should be helped by society and the State. On both occasions, he referred to concrete proposals that should be undertaken to help strengthen family ties and marriage.

On the other hand, Abela realistically noted that even if all measures are taken to strengthen families and marriage there will be others who choose freely, or are constrained into a different kind of relationship from that of the traditional concept of family based on marriage. This "significant minority... has the right to make its own free choices and their rights should be safeguarded because they make an integral part of society."

I believe the main contribution of these two speeches is that they can help change the focus of the national discussion from divorce to the family. The fact that 800 people attended the national conference is a clear indication that the subject is close to their heart.

There are other initiatives in the offing that should help increase the momentum of this shift.

Proġett Impenn, which brings together various Church entities, is organising two other conferences. The Prime Minister and Mrs Gonzi and the opposition leader and Mrs Muscat will take part in the first conference, which is to be held on Saturday at 9.30 a.m. at the Hotel Phoenicia. It should be interesting and attract the media's attention, but I doubt the efficacy of inviting politicians to such a conference.

Of more use should be the conference to be held at the same place and time on February 13. Officials from the National Office of Statistics will provide statistics about Maltese families. Perhaps in the near future Proġett Impenn should organise another conference whereby the results of qualitative research about Maltese families is expounded and discussed. Man does not live by numbers alone, although numbers are important.

Cana is behind the organisation of an international conference on the family to be held in March, while Proġett Impenn have lined up Sir Paul Coleridge, a British High Court judge in the family division, for yet another conference to be held on May 15. That should be a conference not to miss.

Such activities should help Proġett Impenn keep to its focus as a pro-marriage (both religious and civil) advocacy group rather than let it dissipate and become (at least in the perception of many) as mainly an anti-divorce lobby group.

No comments:

Post a Comment