Archbishop warns country is under threat from 'ideology of secularism'

We cannot surrender to ethical and moral pluralism - Bishop Grech

President Eddie Fenech Adami among the congregation at Victory Day Mass at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, yesterday. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

President Eddie Fenech Adami among the congregation at Victory Day Mass at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, yesterday. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Legislation that leads to divorce as well as abortion and euthanasia would weaken society, Archbishop Paul Cremona said yesterday.

In his homily during the Victory Day concelebrated Mass at St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta, Mgr Cremona stressed the importance of making the right decisions, looking not only at what could be achieved but also at what could be lost. The mention of divorce comes a month after Mgr Cremona, Gozo Bishop Mario Grech and Vicar General Annetto Depasquale said in a joint statement that anything which weakens and breaks up marriage and the family, including cohabitation and divorce, has serious and lasting consequences for the common good of the country.

In July, Social Policy Minister John Dalli said he was planning to propose a discussion on divorce in the Cabinet and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said his government was prepared to kick-start a national debate on the introduction of divorce. This followed Labour leader Joseph Muscat's declaration that he was prepared to present a Bill in Parliament proposing the introduction of divorce.

Yesterday, Mgr Cremona underlined the importance of preserving important values, which the country has also fought for in wars. Today, he continued, the country was being threatened by the ideology of secularism, which although based on personal choice, was a strong force which influenced society, sometimes even via legislation.

And confronted by this development, Mgr Cremona said, one could not remain passive, taking solace in the fact that people were still free to live the values they believed in.

As this ideology became stronger, it would become more difficult for people to live their personal values - it would be more difficult for parents to pass on the values they believe in to their children and more difficult for young people to make free choices as they would be surrounded by the wrong messages and influences.

Mgr Cremona said silence and acceptance of a value-free society was not neutrality but a way to strengthen secularism. It was not right to accept the ideology of secularism merely because of its strength or out of fear that Malta was not like other countries.

The Archbishop said the Church would join society in speaking about sustainable development, the environment, justice and other values, adding that important values included the defence of the human being, the unborn child, the elderly, the sick, immigrants, as well as marriage and the family.

However, the effects were already being felt on marriage and the family - even though most marriages remained strong - and the country was already experiencing the negative effects which stemmed from consumerism and materialism, Mgr Cremona said.

Speaking at the Xagħra parish church yesterday on the feast of the Nativity of Our Lady known as Marija Bambina, Gozo Bishop Mario Grech said Christians have a duty to take an active part in the development of the country's history.

The people of God are today being called upon to take an active part in the formation of the country's history by defending 'human reason'. Relativism needs the light of reason, which is considered as that ability by which humans identify what's true, he said. More than a chronicle of events, history is the tradition of spiritual and moral values, he said.

While one notes that there are people who strive for today's events to be in line with those of yesteryear, there are those who want to make others forget yesterday's history and start afresh. And there are those who want to write history without any reference to God.

"It bodes well for those among us who are sympathetic with a secular and a lay society to remember that when history is laid out with God being absent, it would be a history against humans. Plurality of temporal choices is a good thing but we cannot surrender to ethical and moral pluralism.

"This would be detrimental to the democratic life that requires a solid ground based on ethical principles that are not negotiable," Mgr Grech said.

In this context, he added, it does not make sense for Catholics, especially those involved in the public sector to abstain or remain silent when these lay values are under threat. In such a situation, it is not the Church which lies in danger but the future of mankind and of democracy.

In a pluralistic society as ours, there are those who claim that it is arrogant to suggest that moral truth tied to a particular belief ought to lead a civil order that would bind everyone.

As with religious fundamentalism, such reasoning is tantamount to intellectual fundamentalism.

If it is a grave thing for choices based on religious ethics to surface in the public order, it is likewise grave for every Christian position to be labelled as a "confessional choice" and as such be considered as a private choice.

As happened in the past, also today the Church will offer its part in the formation of the history of my country, Mgr Grech concluded.

The Mass at St John's Co-Cathedral was attended by President Eddie Fenech Adami, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, Foreign Minister Tonio Borg, Speaker of the House, Louis Galea, Labour deputy leader Anġlu Farrugia, Chief Justice Vincent De Geatano and members of the judiciary, Police Commissioner John Rizzo, AFM Commander Carmel Vassallo, the Knights of the Order of St John and of the Order of the Santo Sepulcro among others.

After Mass, President Fenech Adami laid a wreath at the Great Siege Memorial in Republic Street, Valletta.


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