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Silence is not golden

Our Catholic politicians’ ignorance, incompetence, spinelessness and incoherence is even more distressing than the government’s callous and amoral attitude.

Our Catholic politicians’ ignorance, incompetence, spinelessness and incoherence is even more distressing than the government’s callous and amoral attitude.

In a landmark document of 1998, entitled ‘Living the Gospel of Life’, the Catholic Bishops of the US made a fervent appeal for Catholics to fulfil their vocation in the public arena. In the light of unfolding events in Malta, this document is very relevant and should be read by politicians who claim to have Catholic credentials.

In this masterly document, we are told that democracy is not served by silence. Being silent, even when in a majority, is worthless. Secular society is very well aware of this and wants to ensure that Catholics keep their convictions in their homes and churches.

Yet Catholics have a moral obligation to advance their beliefs of what promotes the common good by every ethical and legal means. This is elementary Catholic doctrine. Pope Francis has repeatedly invoked the responsibility and obligation of Catholics when he said in Evangelii Gaudium §183: “An authentic faith... always involves a deep desire to change the world, to transmit values, to leave this earth somehow better than we found it.”

Even in countries with a long history of democracy, there are attempts to stifle Christians from expressing themselves. Only recently, Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal party in UK, found that his vocation in politics was untenable due to his Christian credentials. In his resignation, he said: “To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

Only tireless promotion of the truth about the human person can infuse democracy with the right values

Malta is rapidly catching up in a culture that stifles the upholding of Christian ethical values. We have seen a sharp erosion of core Christian values. The recent legislation on ‘gay marriage’ that was rammed through without any fair and wide-ranging debate is an ominous indicator of what lies ahead.

However, what is most distressing is not only the attitude of a callous and amoral government, but the ignorance, incompetence, spinelessness and incoherence of our Catholic politicians. Worse still, the courageous and principled stand of Edwin Vassallo has been belittled and denigrated even from quarters that should know better and who are expected to defend sound values.

At present, we are saddled with politicians who claim to be Catholic and then act publicly in a way contrary to the faith they profess. Yet surely they should have been aware of Church’s teachings on marriage. On June 25, days before the final vote, Archbishop Charles Scicluna made an impassioned homily on the feast of St Nicholas in Siġġiewi defending the institution of traditional marriage, upholding human dignity and appealing for courage.

His criticism of the draft legislation should have left no doubt whatsoever about the position of the Church. Yet, despite the Archbishop’s clarity and his criticism of the proposed law, Catholic politicians failed to oppose the law. Vassallo was a worthy exception. To his eternal credit, he rightly stood up to the corrosive law that has far-reaching implications. This change in the definition of marriage is a blow against the common good of our society, and the right to freedom of religion is now in jeopardy.

Only tireless promotion of the truth about the human person can infuse democracy with the right values. One hopes that Catholics will have the courage and tenacity to expect much more from the people who represent them in politics. Silence is not and has never been a Christian option.

klausvb@gmail.com

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