'A family is a relationship between man and woman, based on marriage' - Bishop Grech
The truth on the identity of the family is constantly being blurred and a lot that threatened families was being implemented in practice, Gozo bishop Mario Grech and chancellor Salv Debrincat said in a pastoral letter.
They said that the introduction of divorce in Maltese law was just one such example.
Mgr Grech and Mgr Debrincat said that it was either that the family's mission in society was not recognised enough or that the family was losing hope in itself.
A society of individuals was being promoted rather a society of families and one was more intent on protecting the rights of individuals rather than those of families.
Mgr Grech and Mgr Debrincat said families should be addressed as institutions and be on the forefront to work for the countries' laws and institutions not to go against, but to defend, their rights and duties.
This clearly showed the importance of family organisations such as unions which would have the possibility of being protagonists in family policy.
Families, Mgr Grech and Mgr Debrincat said, were built on a relationship based on marriage between a man and a woman, where there was lifelong commitment with the aim to love and procreate, raise and educate children.
Although the definition of a family seemed Catholic, it was actually built on reason, they said.
Mgr Grech and Mgr Debrincat said that no other relationship could be equalled to a family.
It was true that there were those within political, economic and media institutions who wanted to call a family any experience of people who decided to live together because they loved one another.
But while these people, who were not a family, had the right for the state to respect their individual rights, it was also the duty of the state to recognise real families and develop a policy in their favour.
Mgr Grech and Mgr Debrincat described the family as a sanctuary where human life was conceived and brought up. They said that respect to the dignity of life required that not just abortion and euthanasia were not permitted but also that methods of procreation would not be a threat to human life.
Considering that the birth rate was low, one should ask if the social environment was aiding families to be generous with life.
Financial burdens, precarious work and buying one's home could be some of the reasons which were leading young couples to take a long time to get married and start their family.
Was the state was encouraging more families to have more children in the dignity they deserved? Good, existing measures to be improved for society to continue helping young couples, not through charity, but through the creation of family friendly employment conditions.
Mgr Grech and Mgr Debrincat said that a delicate balance was needed between the desired strengthening of families and the ambition to improve the standard of living otherwise man to ensure that man worked to live and not lived to work.
They called on the media to organise campaigns which recognised the positive experiences of family life as well as the values on which families should be built, such as faithfulness, sacrifice, patience, forgiveness and charity.
The setting up of family unions, they said, would offer the opportunity for the common good of families so that they would continue to be respected for future generations.
An abridged version of the pastoral letter (in Maltese) can be read in the pdf link below.