Muscat: Reference to Catholic Church should stay in the Constitution
Labour leader Joseph Muscat said this evening that a Labour government would make sure there was a clear separation between Church and state, based on respect and collaboration, but he did not personally believe that reference to the Roman Catholic religion should be removed from the Constitution.
Replying to questions during a televised press conference, Dr Muscat said the Roman Catholic religion should be retained in the Constitution since it was part of Malta’s cultural heritage and the faith of the majority of the people.
Dr Muscat said ways of the distinction between church and state was the way how Church schools would be given more curriculum autonomy from the state set-up, and the clear distinction between civil and ecclesiastical marriage.
“The crucial point here is to recognise the realities that there are small communities that may not feel they have a bond with the Catholic religion,” he said.
Dr Muscat made reference to the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict. He said the Church seemed to be going through a regeneration process.
“These are exciting times for this institution that will, no doubt, have international repercussions,” he said.
Dr Muscat said the PL’s electoral programme was a roadmap that would lead to economic growth.
When it was pointed out that the Labour energy plan timeframes were not included in the party's electoral programme, Dr Muscat insisted that the timeframes were part and parcel of the EU proposal. This meant having the power plant up and running within two years and slashing utility bills for families by next year.
A Labour government, he said, would hold talks with the EU on the funds allocated to Malta for energy. The new government, he said, would be prepared to continue plans for a gas pipeline, something which was far from a done deal under this government, he said.
On the police investigations into the oil procurement scandal, he said he had confidence in the Police Commissioner and did not want to say anything that would cast doubts on the police.
As for allegations that the PL was getting too close to businessmen, he said he met the same people who had met with the Prime Minister.
The difference was that the PL was willing to listen to everyone and would support those with good ideas, irrespective of their political beliefs.
He said that, if elected to government, his party would work with the Opposition towards economic growth and would “share the platform” of Malta’s 2017 EU presidency.
Asked to comment on Anglu Farrugia and the comments made against him (Dr Muscat) by Dr Farrugia's mother in December, Dr Farrugia said those were the comments of a mother who was hurt, but he looked forward to working with Dr Farrugia once more.
The PL movement, he said, was the home of everyone, in contrast to the PN, which had been unable to resolve its internal problems - to the country's detriment.
Asked whether there had been a rapprochement with Dr Farrugia, Dr Muscat said that it was only in the past few days that Dr Farrugia accepted to represent the PL in a Commonwealth parliamentary conference in the Falklands.
Dr Muscat said Dr Farrugia had been informed in advance of his announcement on Sunday, and he looked forward to working with Dr Farrugia in the coming years.