Sunday, 11 September 2011

Times: Why I want to leave the Catholic Church
Thursday, September 8, 2011 , by Ingram Bondin, Luqa

I have read with interest the various reactions regarding the group Not In Our Name in the Maltese media. I plead guilty to being one of the 41 “noteworthies” caricatured by Kenneth Zammit Tabona in his article Outward Signs Of Inward Grace (August 23). My contribution to this debate will be to spell out, as concisely as possible, my reasons for wanting to leave the Catholic Church.

I do not consider myself a Catholic any longer. I did not choose to be baptised and was still too young to realise the full implications of receiving the sacrament of confirmation. Let it be clear that I harbour no ill feeling towards people endorsing the Catholic faith. My quarrel is with the institution of the Church itself. The Church is not simply a spiritual guide; it competes to affect public policy which in turn affects all citizens. Everyone knows that its reach is far and wide, and it is able to use both direct and indirect methods to influence key decisions.

I do not believe in theocracy and I do not believe the state should be run according to the teachings of a Holy Book and their subsequent interpretation by a religious institution.

But a cursory look at the events of 2010 and 2011 would convince anyone that many
important people in the highest reaches of the state would not agree with me. There were a substantial number of episodes in which appointed officials in positions of public trust spoke as if the entire population of these islands was Catholic. I am tired of feeling like a second-class citizen and of the state being used as a tool to impose Catholic morality on everyone.

Considering all this, is it so capricious that I should wish to send a message to the powers that be that there are baptised citizens who are no longer Catholic and who wish for their liberties to be respected?

Am I not free to leave an institution which I did not even choose to join in the first place? And why should I be subject to an interview by the Chancellor? If I were a member of a political party with whose ideas I no longer agreed, would I need the permission of its general secretary to leave it? Would I not have the right to ask them to stop keeping my records?

As a non-believer, I feel bound only by the laws of this republic. Mr Zammit Tabona claims that my baptism cannot be reversed and that I cannot stop being Catholic. Whether my baptism can be reversed or not is an idle question in a metaphysical framework in which I no longer believe. He also claims that we should militate for a change in the Constitution instead, to allow for a secular republic. This, I’m afraid to say, is naïve in the extreme. There is absolutely no political will for such a change; we’re at a stage in which the institutions barely recognise that you can be Maltese and non-Catholic. What Not In Our Name is doing is taking the first steps towards the latter goal. If we succeed, perhaps the idea of a secular state will start to sound like the only option which can ensure that all citizens are respected equally.

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


Times: BUT WHY?
Thursday, September 8, 2011, 09:01, by Andrew Borg Cardona

On Thursday's Times, there was a lengthy letter, responding to a piece by Kenneth Zammit Tabona, in which the letter writer, whose name I forget but it's not important (I trust you see what I mean) made his case for wanting to leave the Catholic Church and for this to be given effect, something on the lines of when one de-registers for VAT, I imagine.

The letter, as already pointed out, was lengthy and it tended to flit from point to point, making it a less than snappy read, but my opening question stands: why? To which I could add a corollary, namely " and who cares?" As far as I am concerned, whether young what's his name is, was, doesn't want to be, no longer considers himself as, a Catholic (or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Seventh Day Adventist or whatever) is a matter of supreme indifference.

You might ask why, then, I am dedicating a few words this fine morning (it's a beautiful day with a North Westerly blowing) to asking this youth to keep his religious or non-religious activities to himself.

Well, it's simple really: religious or anti-religious activism impinges on our lives in so many ways if taken too far, and I'm thinking that the next step said youth is going to take will be to invoke the majesty of the Courts of Justice, which will cost me money (you think the Courts run themselves for free or something?)

Either that or he's going to whip a few like-minded souls up into a frenzy and march on the Curia (hopefully not to sack it, as Labour's shock-troops had done once, just minutes after Dr KMB had removed himself from the parade) requiring the deployment of Malta's finest to keep order (a feat they had not managed to carry out the other time) and generally messing around with traffic, all of which will cost me and you money and cause us inconvenience.

That's not to say, of course, that the chap didn't have a valid point buried within his epistle: it's about time religion, any religion and all religion, was taken off centre stage and made a matter of personal choice not to be imposed on anyone.
And by not imposing, I mean everything from removing references to religion from the Constitution, through letting people regulate their lives without reference to the Sacra Rota to conducting religious festivities with a tad more consideration for the rest of us than most parishes demonstrate. I'm not advocating the dry and totalitarian secularisation of the world, just a bit of liberalism which allows me to live my life without having to endure a re-enactment of the Blitz to celebrate a saint. Let off some fireworks, by all means, and process around the streets all you like, but do bear in mind that there are some of us for whose life would be complete without all that.

And if you want to leave your religion, be my guest, but please don't mess me or my taxes around while you're at it - just leave.

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

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