Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Maltese situation


At a time when the Italian Episcopal Council was already at loggerheads with Italy’s centre-left over a proposed law on civil unions, Archbishop Pawlu Cremona’s recent declaration during Georg Sapiano’s discussion programme Doksa came as a genuine surprise to many.
In apparent dissonance with Rome, Archbishop Cremona replied with a resounding “yes” to Sapiano’s question concerning the necessity or desirability for the party in government to continue working to deliver on an electoral promise, made in 1998, to legislate on the rights and obligations of cohabiting couples.
Mgr Cremona said that the Church has already made it clear that the state must legislate to safeguard the rights and interests of those who live together, including, for example, brothers and sisters who share the same house.

Perhaps wary of treading on the Church’s traditional monopoly on family affairs – unaltered by 160 years of British rule, and only remotely tampered with by Dom Mintoff – the Maltese State has left cohabiting couples in a legal vacuum. Relegated to the status of second class citizens, they have no right of inheritance if their partner dies without leaving a will, no rights to the common home if abandoned by their partner, no say in any decisions affecting their partner’s health and not even a legal right to organise their partner’s funeral.

The first few paragraphs explain the basic situation along with the archbishop's interesting position on the issue. What I find most interesting though is the line that I bolded that gives away in my mind the true intent of the legislation. If all it takes is a will to make sure that person A cohabitating with person B have clear rights of inheritance to each other's property, that's easily remedied. But instead, more rights are demanded in the slippery slope down into the abyss.

Whatever Archbishop Cremona's thoughts are on 'pastoral statements' and the like, he ought to look over the cliff at what lies below before he takes the plunge. The Church's primary goal ought to be protecting the family, not facilitating the ease in which cohabitating couples can simulate family life with all the legal bells and whistles.

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