Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Times: Approval and opprobrium

Monday, December 30, 2013, 11:30 by Fr Joe Borg

During the past few weeks Bishop Charles Scicluna was the target of many attacks by those who were objecting to his stand about same-sex marriage and adoptions by gay couples.

Bishop Scicluna was accused of acting in isolation from the other Maltese bishops whose stand on the subject was rather mild. The Auxiliary Bishop was even accused of acting out of step with the position of Pope Francis himself. This was quite a strange accusation given that Pope Francis took a very strong stand against the legalisation of same-sex marriage and gay adoption when he was Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires; and that was not so long ago. However, the detractors of Bishop Scicluna were not impressed. They used to say that Pope Francis was now adopting different tone and content.

Nothing was further from the truth.

Bishop Scicluna has now informed us that he is following the direction he got from the Pope himself. The Auxiliary Bishop told The Sunday Times of Malta that the Pope is “shocked” by Malta’s Civil Unions Bill, which will allow gay couples to adopt children.

Mgr Scicluna said he had aired his concerns about the subject with Pope Francis when he met him on December 12 and that the Pope “encouraged me to speak out.”

This position of the Pope can be out of line with the image of the Pope wrongly projected by certain sections of the media. However this position is totally consonant with the positions taken by Pope Francis now and when he was in Buenos Aires.

His recent document – The Joy of the Gospel – clearly shows that Pope Francis is against an absent and silent Church. This paragraph clearly explains his position.

“182. The Church’s teachings concerning contingent situations are subject to new and further developments and can be open to discussion, yet we cannot help but be concrete – without presuming to enter into details – lest the great social principles remain mere generalities which challenge no one. There is a need to draw practical conclusions, so that they ‘will have greater impact on the complexities of current situations’. The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions on all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being. It is no longer possible to claim that religion should be restricted to the private sphere and that it exists only to prepare souls for heaven. We know that God wants his children to be happy in this world too, even though they are called to fulfilment in eternity, for he has created all things “for our enjoyment” (1 Tim 6:17), the enjoyment of everyone. It follows that Christian conversion demands reviewing especially those areas and aspects of life “related to the social order and the pursuit of the common good”.[149]

183. Consequently, no one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without influence on societal and national life, without concern for the soundness of civil institutions, without a right to offer an opinion on events affecting society.”

It would be interesting to read what the position of Bishop Scicluna’s detractors will now be.

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