Tag Archives: Catholicism

How can anyone intelligent vote against divorce?

The divorce debate in Malta rumbles on, and citizens will be able to vote in a referendum at the end of May, though we still don’t know exactly how the referendum question will be worded, and there’s now a debate about that. The Maltese sure love to argue…

The catholic church’s latest fusillade aimed at scaring citizens into voting against divorce has been to distribute a fairly threatening leaflet to all households. Funnily enough mine still hasn’t appeared in the letterbox, so I’ll have to rely on this article in the Times of Malta to add my own comments to the debate.

The leaflet sets out 12 (count them) reasons why catholics should vote against the introduction of divorce. As regular readers know I am fanatical about freedom of speech, so I can’t and won’t complain about its publication and distribution. But by the same token, I will now deal with them one by one from a secular point of view.

The 12 questionable statements and my responses

These are taken directly from the Times article – I’m not making them up, honestly. My comments are in bold.

1. If battered wives are granted the right to remarry, so too will their abusive husbands.

So the wives should suffer further because of their husbands’ behaviour? How is that in any way fair?

2. Although people have a right to marry, there is no such right to divorce, according to a 1986 judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

Completely irrelevant. There is no directive forbidding divorce either. That means Malta must decide on its own. This is trying to muddy the waters by playing on people’s ignorance and confusion of EU and ECHR legal structures.

3. Catholics who vote against divorce are not imposing their values. They have a right to vote according to what they think is best for society.

Of course they do, but they should be able to do so without feeling under pressure to vote a particular way.

4. The Church allows priests to leave the priesthood and get married because celibacy is a Church law, not a law of God like the indissolubility of marriage.

Again, totally irrelevant. How is the celibacy of the priesthood related in any way whatsoever to the debate in hand?

5. Divorce weakens the marriage bond, leading to fewer people getting married.

The clear implication is that fewer people getting married would be a bad thing, but no evidence is presented to support this assertion.

6. If you do not vote it means you do not care about the family or your children.

Wow. Nasty, offensive scare tactics and a disgraceful abuse of power. The church sinks to a new low in its ability to make callous, ill-informed judgements on people’s lives.

7. In all countries with divorce, cohabitation increased, marriage decreased and more people fell below the poverty line.

So, out of 203 countries in the world (depending on how you count them), we know that only two do not permit divorce (Malta and The Philippines).

How can the church assert, with a straight face, that the other 201 countries would have less poverty than they do now if they did not allow divorce, when you consider the millions of diverse factors at play in a country’s economic and social development?

Are we saying that Ethiopia would somehow be a rich nation purely by forbidding divorce? If so, surely it would have seen the light and done so by now?

8. There is nothing wrong with Malta being an exception in the world. Malta has the most churchgoers. Unlike the US, it does not have the death penalty. Should those things change too?

Sure, there’s nothing wrong about being an exception in certain cases – but only when it does not harm people’s rights. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world (as far as I know) that forbids women from driving. That’s one hell of an exception. But is it right?

9. Divorce increases marital breakdown by 20 per cent. For society’s benefit, sometimes individuals must suffer. For example, people might have to give up their land to make space for an airport. All efforts must be made to reduce their suffering, but the land must be taken for common good.

Firstly, I would love to see some solid proof to support that rather fishy statistic.

Secondly, the prohibition of divorce makes some people suffer. The introduction of divorce, however, causes no suffering whatsoever. Those who do not believe in divorce do not have to divorce. Everybody wins! Simples!

10. People who remarry civilly after a divorce cannot receive Holy Communion or go to confession.

Oh no! How will they survive? The suicide rate will surely triple overnight!

11. The Church is against abortion, condoms, sex before marriage and divorce because these are all negative actions. However, it is in favour of positive actions.

Abortion is a positive action when the pregnant woman’s life would be in danger by continuing the pregnancy, or when (for example) the pregnancy is the result of rape and the child would not be loved.

Condoms are a positive and proven way to reduce the spread of disease, and to reduce the number of children born into poverty in this overpopulated world.

Sex before marriage is not even a useful phrase, because sex and marriage are not co-dependent or related issues. Sex is sex, marriage is marriage.

And divorce is a positive action because it allows people whose marriage may have become irretrievably toxic through no fault of their own, to get a second chance at happiness, if that is what they want.

12. The number of children born out of wedlock increases in countries with divorce because cohabitation increases.

Firstly, prove to me that cohabitation increases in countries with divorce. I would argue that it probably decreases, because people can get married for a second time if they want to, rather than being forced to have children out of wedlock if they want to have them with a second partner.

And secondly, I really can’t see why it matters whether children are born to couples who are married or not. The important thing is a loving environment, not a piece of paper.

Do you disagree with anything I’ve said? Put your money where your mouth is and make a comment.

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Malta remains in the stone age

Not content to impose its own views on the populous regarding abortion and divorce, the catholic church in the form of one of Malta’s bishops has now said that educating children about contraception is “tantamount to child abuse“.

Now pause and let that sink in for a moment.

Yes, he (the bishop of Gozo, Mario Grech) was talking about contraception. It seems to me that there are three blindingly obvious issues here.

The first, of course, is that contraception is a vital component of healthcare and responsible living.

Do you want your child to struggle through their teens and early twenties with an unplanned and unwanted child (don’t forget there is no abortion in Malta)? Would you like your teenage child to contract AIDS or some other sexually-transmitted disease? How much money does the World Health Organisation and assorted charities spend annually on trying to treat and reduce the spread of AIDS, because the catholic church discourages the use of condoms in third world countries?

The second issue is that the way the catholic church demonises sexual activity other than for procreation does nothing to aid its cause. Sex is arguably the most fun any two people can have together. Young people like to have fun. Young people also like to rebel against authority. In Malta the church represents the ultimate authority, and taking such a strict position is pretty much asking young people to do the opposite.

The third issue is the breathtaking hypocrisy of the man. This guy is a mouthpiece of an organisation that not only brainwashes young children with terrifying stories of hell and damnation (surely abuse in itself), but that frequently places them in situations where it knows that its own priests will sexually abuse rape and torture them (let’s call a spade a spade here).

The head of Malta’s GU clinic, Philip Carabott, has quite rightly called the bishop’s comments “hysterical and unproductive“, and has urged the authorities to ignore the bishop’s words. Let’s hope his efforts in the field of sexual health in Malta over the years are not wasted.

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Freedom of expression in Malta

As I’ve said before, it doesn’t exist.

Let me explain…

A man who posted a comment on Facebook saying that the Pope should be shot in his hand, cheeks and in his side just as Christ was, was today condemned to a month in jail suspended for a year and fined €500.

Swieqi Man fined €500 for Facebook Comment, Times of Malta, 20 May 2010

This hapless guy posted a satirical comment in the Facebook Group NO to Pope Benedict XVI in Malta (LE għall-Papa Ratzinger f’Malta), and somehow a Maltese judge decided that not only is it illegal to make such a comment, but that Malta has jurisdiction over something said by a Maltese person on an American website.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: What the fuck?

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Pope slams gay marriage

The article “Pope slams gay marriage” appeared in the Times of Malta on 11 January 2010. Clearly the pope’s comments are a direct result of the decision of Portugal to approve plans to legalise gay marriage, and the recent marriage joining two men in Argentina.

Does the catholic church never learn?

Firstly, his comments are blatantly homophobic, as they seek to encourage the denial of a human right to gay people.

Secondly, if the scope of his address had been “catholics should not marry other catholics of the same sex” there would be no problem, however as usual he addresses the entire planet without seeming to understand that he is not king of the world and has no business inflicting his hateful views on non-believers.

Take this direct quote, for instance: “Freedom cannot be absolute. For man, the path to be taken cannot be determined by caprice or willfulness, but must rather correspond to the structure willed by the Creator,” he said.

Quite apart from his use of the word “man” which betrays the ongoing misogyny of the church, who the hell is he to tell you, me or anyone else that our path through life must be something in particular?

Hey, pope, fuck off and take your bigoted megalomania with you.

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