As a member of a Christian European group involved in working towards inclusion, I do try to generally keep up with the situation in countries other than Britain, and I regularly get emails concerning various events, votes, petitions. Malta, the last European country to oppose divorce, is currently facing a May 28 referendum. The upcoming referendum is over legislation that is far from being a green light to liberalism; it will offer voters the option of divorce only for couples who have had four years of marital separation with no prospect of reconciliation. Only separation and annulment are possible under the current Marriage Act. I don't particularly like the idea of annulment as, in all but a handful of circumstances, it is a type of sanitised lie which pretends a marriage/ relationship was never valid rather than facing up to the reality that marriage does break down.
I find it offensive when people assume that, because I hold certain views, I am cavalier in my attitude to marriage. Marriage involves taking vows before God and, more importantly (because it is more important to God) it involves undertaking a lifelong vocation to another person, to love and cherish them and to look to their interests and well being. At the same time I strongly believe that the breakdown of any marriage is a tragedy and not a sin or a crime. This is not to say there is not sin or failure involved in any such breakdown, but it is the type of sin and failure that we are all capable of, and which occurs in all our relationships. Perhaps those whose marriages last are simply fortunate that the combination of difficulties and failures were not sufficient to overwhelm the relationship. I do not understand how people can judge in these cases, and the situation in Malta undoubtedly causes much human misery.
The account here comes from a Roman Catholic priest who describes his shame at the tactics the Church has used in Malta in the run up to the referendum. So this post is as much to, once again, express despair over the effects of institutionalised religion and its barbarous attitudes to human dignity and freedom as it is to reflect on Malta.The account was sent to me in an email this morning and I found it left me saddened and angry, but moved by the thought of those who speak out despite everything - please read it.