Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna's Christmas Day homily called on the Christian faithful and MPs "not to destroy the family based on the lasting bond between one man and one woman". This was immediately understood as a reference to the forthcoming legislation that will introduce gay unions and comments for and against the bishop multiplied on the news portals.
Mgr Scicluna, 54, has been vocal in his opposition to civil unions for homosexual couples and gay adoptions, although his was a relatively lone voice in the otherwise muted response from the Maltese Catholic archdiocese.
Bishop Scicluna’s Christmas homily reiterated that the family has to be built around a man and a woman.
"Around the manger of baby Jesus there are also a woman and a man: the mother who gave him birth and her husband Joseph whom God chose to bring up, along with the mother, the child of Mary. God, who generated his Son as a human being without the participation of a man, did not want his Son as man to be brought up without the participation of a man.
"The silent and essential mission of Joseph was to ensure that the boy Jesus, in his upbringing as a man, was not deprived of a father’s affection and example. In the upbringing of his Beloved Son, God himself ordained and chose to be subjected to the wisdom and law of creation according to which a baby should be reared by a mother and father, by a couple made of a man and a woman and not by a couple made of woman and woman or a couple made of man and man," the Bishop said.
"May the Sweet Baby of Bethlehem grant us the grace that those who in our country have the power to build or to destroy, may have wisdom to build and not to destroy the family based on the lasting bond between one man and one woman.
"The message of Christmas remains always a current message. It beckons and invites us to seek and recognize the true wisdom that the manger of our Lord Jesus embraces."
Mgr Scicluna questioned whether Christians were "looking for nutrition of mind and heart" from the Lord's manger, or from other mangers and troughs that had "the food of folly and the rat poison put by our enemy".
He has described a bill to legalise civil unions for gay couples as "deceptive" because the draft law states that its object is equate unions and marriage. "If the government wants gay marriage, it should say so. I understand the party in government did not promise gay marriage, so it doesn't feel it has this mandate. But that is something that should be discussed in parliament: why is government introducing gay marriage under a convenient label?"
Comments on the news portals were divided, with some defending the bishop’s views and others roundly condemning him.
Malicia Dabrowicz, for instance, wrote: “But why only a man and a woman?! Why can’t two women or two men or children and a single parent form a family? Why it is so hard for Curia to understand? You people are so removed from the teaching of Jesus that you should not even be called Christians. I am sick and tired of all the hatred, blaming, and injustice that Church is brewing. “
Axel Cachia wrote: “Children need lots and lots of love to grow up in a steady environment. Love brings love and hatred brings hatred. I also used to think the way the bishop is writing, however, with my experience with children, it doesn't matter with whom children grow up, as long as they are loved and taken care of in the proper way. Love has no boundaries. I see children living with their parents (mother and father) and who don't even care about their upbringing and their future, and I see children who are being reared by their mother and a female partner in the best way for the child. Only time will tell which child will have the best upbringing result, which after all are tomorrow's society. I already have my opinion.”