Friday, 31 May 2013

Malta Today: Busuttil agrees with updating Church-State agreement on marriage tribunals

Church against gay marriage but it will wait for civil unions bill before commenting further.
Tuesday 21 May 2013 - 12:03 by Jurgen Balzan

Simon Busuttil (right) with Archbishop Paul Cremona (centre) and auxiliary bishop Charles Scicluna. (Photo: Photocity)

Archbishop Paul Cremona intends taking a cautious stance over forthcoming legislative changes that will sanction civil unions for gay partners, and the Prime Minister's intention to remove the Ecclesiastic Tribunals' authority on marriage annulments.

Cremona today met new PN leader Simon Busuttil at a courtesy meeting where both leaders were quizzed about church-state relations.

Busuttil said the PN would wait and see as to what Joseph Muscat's legislative changes to the Church-State agreement of 1992 will be. "I understand the need to update the agreement to reflect today's realities, however since the government has not yet forwarded the details of how it intends to change the agreement, the PN will have to wait and see. But in principle we agree with updating the agreement," Busuttil said.

On his part, Cremona said the Curia had no problem with seeing that the agreement - which grants Ecclesiastical Tribunals the final authority on the dissolution of church marriages undergoing annulment proceedings - is changed.

Cremona instead reaffirmed the Church's stance against gay marriages, and reflecting on a forthcoming bill to legislate civil unions, said parliament should also give importance to the centrality of the family based on marriage.

"The Church is against gay marriage, but I believe that all humans are equal in front of God. The church agrees with laws that protect individuals in all kinds of partnerships, but it will not favour gay marriage."

Cremona said the church would wait for the upcoming civil union bill before making any further comment.

Busuttil paid tribute to the historical role the Church played in creating institutions of welfare that predated the welfare state, and said he wanted to see stronger relations between the PN and the Catholic Church.

"We are proud of our Catholic values, but the PN is not a confessional party. We are separate from the church, even though our Catholic values are reflected in our policies."

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