Malta Bishop Apologizes to Lesbian and Gay People While Opposing Civil Unions’ Bill

Bishop Charles Scicluna

A Catholic bishop from Malta made a surprising statement on a popular television talk show in that country when he apologized over the airways for the hurt that Catholic leaders have caused lesbian and gay people.

Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna appeared on “Xarabank,” hosted by Peppi Azzopardi, to discuss that nation’s civil unions bill, which the Catholics bishop there oppose, in part because it would allow lesbian and gay couples to adopt children.  The Malta Independent reported on the bishop’s words, which were in response to comments from gay couples who were guests on the show who :

“The bishop was confronted by gay couples who refuse to understand why the Church continues to make obstacles for them to have same rights as heterosexual couples.

“Scicluna did not mince his words and, while holding his ground on the teachings of the Church that marriage should be exclusive to the union between men and women, he made a historical statement by asking the gay community for forgiveness for each time those representing the Church made their (gays) life miserable and harder.”

His apology received applause from the gay guests and the studio audience.  Bishop Scicluna’s apology, while a good step, is not to be confused with strong support for lesbian and gay people.  Just last week, he published a letter opposing the civil unions bill in The Times of Malta  In the letter, he stated:

“In a nutshell marriage is for the family. It is not simply a socially recognised partnership. The proposed bill intends to put all this behind us in the name of the asserted equality of same sex (homosexual) couples to couples of different sex (heterosexual) couples.

“This asserted equality is a no-brainer when we deal with human dignity and the right to freedom from unjust discrimination. It does not stand the test of logic when it comes to the openness to the gift of parenthood.”

You can watch a video of the apology below, however the bishop and the others speak in Maltese.

This is not the first time that Bishop Scicluna has made headlines with statements critical of a doctrinaire approach to lesbian and gay people.  In February of this year, he criticized a public letter by a Catholic man who said that lesbian and gay people can only experience lust, and not love.  Scicluna refuted the letter writer, saying that was not the teaching of the church.

Bondings 2.0 recently questioned the Maltese bishops’ opposition to the civil unions bill because they did so by quoting Pope Francis’ call for a more open attitude towards lesbian and gay people, which seemed somewhat incongruous.

The question this newer story raises is: can an apology be sincere when the bishop opposes legalizing civil unions for lesbian and gay couples?   Can someone authentically hold these two positions?    Post your thoughts in the “Comments” section of this post.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

12 replies
  1. Ned Flaherty
    Ned Flaherty says:

    Roman Catholic clergy are continuing to claim that “We bear LGBT people no ill will whatsoever, but we do deny LGBT individuals, couples, and their children their fundamental human rights to exist, marry, form families, and receive equal protection under the law.”

    Denying human rights proves ill will, and it is ill will to deny human rights.

    Either the clergy hold both positions, or they hold neither, but nobody can hold one position without also holding the other.

    It is irrational, unintelligent, and dishonest for anyone, including Bishop Scicluna, to claim he bears no ill will while he simultaneously denies human rights.

    • Jim Sheil
      Jim Sheil says:

      Re: ” Either the clergy hold both positions, or they hold neither, but nobody can hold one position without also holding the other.”

      With respect, I bear LGBT people no ill will whatsoever, and I do NOT deny LGBT individuals, couples, and their children their fundamental human rights to exist, marry, form families, and receive equal protection under the law. I do not think I am the exception that proves the rule.

      • Ned Flaherty
        Ned Flaherty says:

        The most quoted Roman Catholic clergy leaders all claim to hold the contradictory, hypocritical position that I outlined.

        No bishop, archbishop, or cardinal has ever said he supports all 4 of these human rights for LGBT people, because church teaching forbids it.

        If you can get even one of them to publicly, officially support these 4 human rights, then that would make history.

  2. Alecia Moss
    Alecia Moss says:

    I believe that the bishop’s apology is sincere in a limited way because he is only beginning to realize that people have been hurt by the Church. This is not only because of the Church’s teaching on homosexuality but because Catholics are part of their larger society and have participated in bias and stereotyping. In reality, if Catholic Christians educated themselves and spoke out against the injustices perpetrated against gay and lesbian people, the tide would begin to change. But we need “permission” and leadership from our bishops! It is easier for someone to feel like a devout and practicing Catholic when they profess adherence to the teaching on Same Sex marriage more then almost any other teaching. They may not care for the teaching on contraception, or chastity before marriage or even the teaching that it is a mortal sin to miss Sunday Mass, but they feel like good Catholics when they are against Marriage Equality. They are told by our bishops that they are defending the family with this. Well, prejudice and lack of understanding and lack of a compassionate, pastoral policy toward gay and lesbian Catholics, is harming those people and their families. Maybe our bishops should go to our Catholic College’s PRIDE clubs (the few colleges that permit them to exist) and ask those gay and lesbian students, how many of them feel comfortable talking to their Catholic parents about the issue and how many feel accepted by the Church. Maybe the bishops will realize one day that there are many societal issues affecting the family today, like adultery, drug and alcohol problems, domestic violence, and young people not wanting to commit to marry. At least the discussion on Marriage Equality is getting people to talk about marriage in general and what it means. What is needed from the bishop is an apology for how the Catholic Church’s attitude of fear and silence about homosexuality has permitted the average person who may not even attend church, to profess that same sex marriage is a sin against God when really it is a cultural taboo that denies the reality of loving gay and lesbian consenting adult relationships where the couple desires the stability and permanency that accompany married life.

  3. Anton
    Anton says:

    The “increase and multiply” recommendation by God in the Bible came only AFTER “it is not good for man to be alone” or woman, for that matter. It was companionship that God provided … at least in one of the creation of humans story. In the other one they were created together, and, again, most likely for companionship, and “in God’s image and likeness.”


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] the LGBT outreach ministry of a priest who blessed a same-gender couples union in 2015.  Though he opposed civil unions, Scicluna said the church should apologize to LGBT people, and criticized a right-wing blogger for […]

  2. […] Before Malta approved civil unions, he joined other church leaders in opposing the law. But he apologized at the same time to lesbian and gay people whose lives had been made harder by the church. And Scicluna has defended the love which can […]

  3. […] at the idea of gay couples adopting, though this comment was never confirmed. Yet, Scicluna also apologized to lesbian and gay people for harm done by the church and publicly criticized a lay man’s harsh letter against same-sex […]

  4. […] the same time, Scicluna has apologized to lesbian and gay people for times the church has made their lives more difficult. He publicly criticized a lay […]

  5. […] the proposal to legalize civil unions has caused one auxiliary bishop to make harsh comments against the LGBT community, including one which said Pope Francis was […]

  6. […] is at the center of this controversy, has previously commented on LGBT matters in both positive and negative ways. New remarks by Scicluna during Christmas Mass triggered criticism after he defended […]

  7. […] at all.  Such analysis is needed now more than ever, as Catholic leaders make more use of this type of argument than most religious leaders […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *