APRIL 23, 2011 By RAPHAEL VASSALLO
In a thinly veiled threat of excommunication and eternal damnation, Malta’s Catholic bishops have reminded the faithful that there will be ‘irreparable consequences’ to voting ‘Yes’ in the May 28 divorce referendum.
A pastoral note, issued to priests in March [23rd] but recently made public on the website of the Archdiocese, makes it clear that all Christians who intend to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum will be defying the will of God and the Magisterium of the Church.
“The Christian must take a decision to vote in favour or against divorce legislation in the light of his belief. For the Christian, a law that transforms marriage into something temporary runs counter to the will of Our Father. For this reason, the Christian who favours divorce will create a division between his beliefs and his intended decision: which decision will bear irreparable consequences.”
As ‘irreparable’ unequivocally means that no remedy will be possible, the Bishops’ warning places a Yes vote in the referendum firmly in the same category as a Mortal Sin: almost exactly half a century after the Church resorted to identical sanctions in its notorious 1961 altercation with the Labour Party.
The note goes on: “In our pastoral work, we priests have the duty to help the Christian make a proper judgement of marriage according to the word of God, in the light of the Magisterium of the Church, including her social teaching of about the real good of the individual and of society.
“When the Christian recognises that his judgement does not tally with the teachings of Christ, as communicated by the Church, he will not be free from guilt if he does not realign his judgement with that teaching – because when [a Christian] consciously and freely breaks the moral law, he will be breaking his relation with God, the father of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
However, the same pastoral note also gives an informal blessing to the government’s plans to regulate cohabitation at law: despite the fact that, like divorce, cohabitation also falls foul of God’s law.
“The State is in duty bound to regulate the rights and obligations between a man and a woman in a stable relationship, which stability is not officially confirmed at law. In this regard, legislators must take care not to create any legal status that touches upon the permanence of marriage; however, it is good that persons in stable relations which are not officially approved are given legal protection regarding certain civil consequences.”
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