Saturday, 3 September 2011

MaltaToday: Former minister hits out at fire and brimstone monsignor


Nationalist MP Censu Galea called on the Church to take a clear stance after Mgr Anton Gauci branded all pro-divorce Catholics as being “on the road to hell”

Nationalist MP Censu Galea is calling on the Church to refute statements made by a priest, Mgr Anton Gauci, who branded MPs who voted for divorce as “heretics” and “on the road tohell.”

In a letter published on Sunday, 21 August on the Nationalist Party’s newspaper il-mument, former minister Censu Galea took to task Gozitan priest Mgr Anton Gauci, over a fire-and-brimstone attack he penned those who criticised the Prime Minister for controversially voting against the divorce bill in parliament.

“Whomever supports the introduction of a law that goes against divine law, whether a member of parliament or simple faithful, is on the road to hell,” Mgr Gauci wrote.

He also maintained that anyone opposing the indissolubility of marriage had made themselves heretics and had excommunicated themselves, meaning they “placed themselves outside the church.”

“Why? Because the indissolubility of marriage is church dogma as defined by session XXIV of the Council of Trent and was defined as ex iure divino,” Mgr Gauci said.

“It is worthless that these even present themselves for Communion,” he said. “This is nothing short of a sacrilege.”

Mgr Gauci had prominently opposed Malta’s accession into the EU in the run-up to the 2003 referendum, slamming the EU’s leadership as “pagan” in left-leaning newspaper it-Torca over its stand on same-sex relationships, abortion, and its reluctance to recognise god in the European constitution.

Reacting to Gauci’s letter last Sunday, Nationalist MP Censu Galea - who voted in favour of the divorce bill in parliament - drew attention to the Curia’s silence in the face of Mgr Gauci’s fiery warning. “What is the Church’s position on this letter?” he asked.

“If they agree with it, they should be clear about it. If not, they should condemn it without reservation,” he said, adding that the Church is duty-bound to clarify its position on the matter.

Contacted by MaltaToday, Galea reiterated that he expects the Church make its position clear. “During the referendum campaign, the Church had said it would not be taking such a line. If that has changed, it should say so,” he said.

“If the church’s position is one that is in line with what Mgr Gauci wrote, it is a position I would find a big issue with,” Galea said, adding that he had made no secret of his No vote in the divorce referendum.

Questions sent to Curia PRO Kevin Papagiorcopulo remained unanswered by the time of going to print.

Galea was one of the few government MPs who voted in favour of the divorce bill during both parliamentary votes – during the second reading before the bill was submitted to review at committee stage, and during the third reading, when the bill was amended and subject to the final decisive vote.

“Society was changing,” Galea was reported as saying in early July, just days before the second reading vote. “One might like the change, but it could not be stopped. People whose marriage had failed should be helped to reintegrate in society.”

In his letter on 24 July, Mgr Gauci also dismissed the line of reasoning adopted by several MPs that “one is supporting the will of the people in the referendum” by voting in favour of divorce.

“We can never support a decision that goes against divine law such as the indissolubility of marriage,” Mgr Gauci said.

He also called on the church to “teach these truths” and said its leaders have no choice but to do so. “Church heads, bishops, parish heads and priests are not free to teach them or not. Even if this means sacrifice or odiousness on their part.”

“It is our duty and god will punish us if we shirk it,” Mgr Gauci said, adding that no excuse could stand in the way, “not even the myth that we would be accused of conducting ‘crusades’.”

“Whoever supports the introduction of a law that goes against divine law, be they members of parliament or simple faithful, are on the road to hell,” Mgr Gauci said.

Earlier this year, Mgr Gauci also vociferously supported the widely-criticised ‘ban’ of pro-divorce lobby chairperson and family lawyer Deborah Schembri from the Curia’s Ecclesiastic Tribunal.

Describing this as “common sense in practice”, Mgr Gauci said it is “unbelievable that we should see the chairman of a pro-divorce movement perorating exactly in marriage-dissolution cases of ecclesiastical tribunals.”

“Let us be frank and ask ourselves what Lord Jesus would have remarked on such happenings,” Mgr Gauci added, taking the chance to hit out at those members of the clergy who had expressed pro-divorce sentiments.

“It is really sad to see that, when God’s and Church’s laws are clear in their prohibitions, you can have some of God’s ministers not in unison with Catholic belief. It is precisely this that strikes you when you read of priests “supporting” pro-divorce movements (April 28),” he said.

In 2003, a handful of days before Malta’s European Union referendum on 8th March, Mgr Gauci had also soundly criticised the EU and the European Parliament for approving a resolution urging EU member states to recognise same-sex marriages.

“One would have to be completely blind to not see that the EU leadership is absolutely pagan and goes against the teachings of the Gospel,” Mgr Gauci wrote in the Torca, a weekly newspaper owned by the General Workers’ Union.

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