After ground-breaking interview by Pope Francis, Maltese bishops’ tone on gay unions sounds less belligerent
Wednesday 16 October 2013 - 14:53 by Matthew Vella
Archbishop Paul Cremona said MPs should consider the effects of civil unions for gay people who will be able to adopt children.
Malta's bishops have called on Christian MPs to "continue proposing" the Church's teaching on marriage, in a guarded message against civil unions for gay people.
The tone of the statement, by Archbishop Paul Cremona and Gozo bishop Mario Grech, was uncharacteristically subdued, reflecting in part the spirit of an interview by Pope Francis toLa Civiltà Cattolica in which the pontiff said that the Church was too fixated with sexual ethics.
"In line with Pope Francis's example, we do not intend to repeat 'the teaching of the Church' on this issue which 'is clear'. We invite all those involved in Christian formation and catechesis to continue proposing what the Church teaches in this regard," the bishops said.
Their pointed warning was for MPs to consider the effects of civil unions for gay people who will be able to adopt children.
"We trust [they] will do their outmost so that while discussing this Bill, they show respect towards all the persons involved and at the same time consider the common good," the bishops said.
They said adoption of children by partners in a civil union was a very delicate issue. "It seems to us that it will be wise if the legislator takes the necessary time to make the right decisions on this matter. Children should preferably be brought up by their parents, a man and a woman."
The bishops also exhorted MPs to take strengthen opposite-sex couples and families, which they described as "the first and principle builder of society".
"We encourage all those who are convinced of this truth to treasure the family and continue expressing their high regard towards this natural institution."
The bishops said the new civil unions bill, which will grant gay couples the same rights and obligations of opposite-sex marriages, demanded a "profound and ponderate reflection".
"We should keep in mind that through this Bill we are discussing persons and their lives. Consequently, in order that this may be a mature discussion, it should reflect a profound respect towards those persons. As Pope Francis recently said referring to persons with a homosexual orientation, 'in life God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation'."