The Malta Independent 20 July 2018, Friday

‘A multicultural Malta must also be a respectful multi-faith country’ - President

Tuesday, 20 March 2018, 16:30 Last update: about 5 months ago

President Marie Louis Coleiro Preca stated today that while also acknowledging that some faith traditions have a more rigid definition of marriage, we must also accept that it is a living and dynamic institution, which is influenced by the developing needs, attitudes, socio-economic changes, and understandings of our contemporary communities.

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Delivered the opening speech during a plenary session of a conference organised by the University of Malta in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam and George Mason University, on “Religious Marriages in the Mediterranean, Coleiro Preca said that it is essential for our professionals and experts to take stock of contemporary situations, and ask whether our laws are meeting peoples aspirations for justice and human rights.

The President said that just as previous generations addressed the inequalities and injustices confronted by individuals who faced prejudice, based upon racial restrictions on marriages, similar restrictions still apply in many parts of the world, to same-gender couples seeking legal recognition of their relationships.

She said that the diversity of faith traditions and cultures, which has always been a characteristic of the Mediterranean Region, is a typical example of the cultural diversity that this region embraces, further stating that, on the other hand, the celebration of diversity and intercultural dialogue has a deeper meaning than the simple fact that people from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds live together.

Successful intercultural dialogue means that there is a commitment to promote processes of inclusion, where each community is encouraged and supported to preserve, and to share what is most valuable about its own distinctive culture and tradition,the President said.

President Coleiro Preca stated that it takes successful intercultural dialogue, as part of a well-developed strategy of multiculturalism, to truly reflect the fact that diversity enriches our societies.

I believe that culture and identity require a careful balance of collaboration, and an openness to respectful cooperation. I believe that when we are committed to effective intercultural dialogue, then we must also be committed to the fundamental freedom of religion,The President said, whilst adding that this is why I believe that a multicultural Malta must also be a respectful multi-faith country.

The President stated that when tensions arise between those who hold certain traditional perspectives, and new challenges to the status quo, then it is profoundly important to analyse the way in which we talk about our differences.

While also maintaining the integrity of our individual values, we must never close down channels of respectful dialogue,President Coleiro Preca stated whilst further stressing her belief that we must listen to the members of our communities, and nurture a sense of active citizenship in our society, as part of a healthy democracy.

President Coleiro Preca said that marriage has been a permanent fixture of Mediterranean cultures, and indeed, of many cultures all over the world.

While marriage, as an institution, has been a constant presence in our world, I believe that it is important for us to recognise that, like any relationship between individuals, communities and the State, it is in a constant and dynamic process of evolution,The President said, whilst using the recent developments here in Malta, as an example, where the Marriage Equality Act has made it possible for same-gender couples to have their relationships legally recognised and safeguarded.

The President said that such statements in favour of equality, emanating from legislation, which was enacted, and policy, which was adopted, are a powerful example of the commitment that Malta has made to uphold universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of every member of our society.

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