Thursday, 30 June 2011

MaltaToday: 'Not in our name', says budding self excommunication group

[Incorrect Picture posted in the Original News Article.]

From left to right: Reuben Zammit, Andrew Galea and Daniel Schembri addressing the press conference outside the Curia

Fifty years after the Archbishop's 'excommunication edict' shocked and fractured the nation in April 1961, today people are beginning to ask to have themselves formally stricken from the register of baptized Catholics.

Not many people, granted: the group that gathered on the steps of the Curia this morning numbered only four, though they represent around 100 others who have signed up to an online community requesting 'self-excommunication' from the Church, and calling for greater Church State separation.

"We, as citizens, assert our rights to be Maltese and non-Catholics and demand that non-Catholics no longer be made to feel discriminated against, under-represented or victimized as a result of social stigma," main spokesman Andrew Galea told the press.

The group is planning a 'mass excommunication' event, similar to analogous events that have taken place in Italy, Austria, Ireland and elsewhere, under the heading 'Not In Our Name.'

Galea enumerated a list of grievances against the Church, including child abuse by members of the clergy; the Church's position on condoms in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and hostility towards persons of LGBT sexual orientation.

"The latest and most obvious episode of misconduct was the Church's campaign during the divorce referendum," Andrew Galea said.

But on this occasion the target is to encourage more widespread disengagement from Catholicism as a means of self-identification. Galea hopes the initiative will inspire others to come forward in a bid to overturn the general perception of Malta as an exclusively Catholic preserve.

"We hope that by excommunicating ourselves and calling to be struck off the Catholic registry we may appeal to those who share our desire for a socially inclusive, secular state – that recognizes all religious and non-religious denominations as equal and separate from state."

Among the longer term aims are "to open a dialogue about changing Article 2 of the Constitution, which defines our nation as a Catholic country, and to thereby undermine the unjust Catholic privileges in education, law, politics and culture, which have served to alienate so many who do not subscribe to catholic dogma."

A second meeting will be held on Sunday 10 July, 4pm, at 60 A Strait Street Valletta to explain what the process of excommunication entails. Queries may be addressed to

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on MaltaToday's website. See the Facebook Group here.]

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