News | Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bookmark and Share

‘Negative actions, negative perceptions’

The Church’s stand on cohabitation may have been nothing new, but MPs who are separated from their spouses and live with new partners say the effect of the bishops’ pronouncement on Holy Communion last week creates unnecessary hurt

MPs from both sides of the political divide have taken issue with a statement by Malta’s bishops last week, reminding separated couples who are living with new partners they are not eligible for Holy Communion as laid down in Catholic doctrine.
In comments to MaltaToday, MPs Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Marlene Pullicino, Michael Farrugia and Chris Cardona – all of whom live with new partners after separating from their spouses – expressed ‘disbelief’ at the way the local Church is addressing the issue.
The bishops’ statement last week was a direct reaction to statements by Fr Gorg Dalli that he could not deny Holy Communion to a cohabiting woman.
In their comments to MaltaToday, the MPs acknowledged that Catholic church has its own rules, but still found it unfair to single out separated spouses living with new partners.
Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said he found the Church’s stand on divorce understandable, but not treating separated spouses with ‘disrespect’.
“I cannot understand how the local Curia can justify treating cohabiting couples with disrespect, given it is militating against them being able to re-marry,” he said.
According to the bishops, separated spouses are only eligible for Holy Communion if they are not living with a partner.
“I accept that the Church cannot allow people ‘living in sin’ to receive the Holy Eucharist but find what happened recently as regards invitations sent out to couples in a stable and longstanding relationship, unnecessarily hurtful,” he said about separated MPs who did not receive invitations for the papal visit for their partners.
Pullicino Orlando accused the local Curia of using a different yardstick with remarried divorcees. “It is pertinent to note that, locally, annulment cases take an inordinately and exceptionally long time to be resolved compared to what happens in any other dioceses.”
Labour MP Michael Farrugia was more vocal in his remarks, insisting it is “absolutely wrong” for the Church to single out separated spouses living with other partners and “specifically target this category of people in society as the wrongdoers”.
Farrugia acknowledged the Church has its rules, “but it is wrong for it to just talk about separated cohabiting couples and branding them as sinners, rather than enlisting all other forms of sinners who would definitely not be eligible for the Holy Eucharist.”
Another Labour MP who is also separated from his spouse, Chris Cardona, said he “totally” disagreed with the bishops’ stand, but was more clear on the matter. “Whoever is uncomfortable with what is being promoted, then they should leave the church.”
“It is utterly discriminatory and practically invites Christians of good standing – unfortunately who are separated and cohabiting – not to feel part of it anymore,” Cardona added.
Labour MP Marlene Pullicino, separated from Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, and cohabiting with her partner, rued the bishops’ statement on the grounds that it leaves a negative effect on children.
“Negative action by the Church only brings about negative perceptions. It creates an environment of prejudice and judgement, not to mention the creation of blatant situations of discrimination not for cohabiting parents, but for their children, particularly those who are set to receive their First Holy Communion.
“Think of the children’s stigma by friends who see that their parents cannot receive Holy Communion. It’s ridiculous and worst, discriminatory and totally negative,” Pullicino said.
In their statement last week, the Bishops of Malta and Gozo said couples who lived together without being married “should not receive Holy Communion” but instead “accept the Eucharist in their heart” as an alternative.
The bishops added that such couples “did not reflect the disposition one should have to receive the Eucharist. It’s the Church’s teaching that when one receives the Eucharist, they are in complete union with God and the Church.”
The bishops also said that many spouses are who separated “paid a high price in not entering a relationship with another person outside their marriage” so as to be able to partake in the holy sacraments of confession and communion.
The statement was a clear response to that by Fr Gorg Dalli, who stated on TV that “the Eucharist is not mine. I would be abusing my power were I not to administer Holy Communion. What shall we tell this woman... abandon your children and leave this man? If in her conscience she feels Christ is inviting her to participate in the Eucharist nobody has the right to interfere with her conscience.”


Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



Download MaltaToday Sunday issue front page in pdf file format

Download the MaltaToday newspaper advertising rates in PDF format

Download the Gourmet Today advertising rates in PDF format


Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email