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Post No. 17

August 28, 2008

Archbishop Paul Cremona’s contribution (in the Times of Malta) to the “divorce debate” is impressive. Let me explain. In his piece he gives some suggestions on how to strengthen the family and how the  family is perceived – outside looking in, sort of.

It is obvious that he is combatting divorce, but the beauty of the piece is that he wisely does not tackle the issue by trying to rubbish divorce. He does not even say that he’s tackling the issue, as it were. His ideas, if followed, could significantly strengthen families. And that is his strategy: strengthen marriages and families so that they will think less about looking for pastures greener. Think of it as “customer loyalty” if you wish. If we’re satisfied with a brand we don’t go round looking for something better. I think that he’s saying that the same goes for marriage. If you have a strong marriage and a fulfilling family life, you will do your utmost to keep them in the best of health.

Strangely, he doesn’t mention Christ or the Church anywhere in this piece, neither. What’s going on? How can a Catholic bishop go on about family and marriage without dropping any of the C-words? And this is precisely the impressive bit. If you go through the piece you’ll notice that it is jam-packed with practical day-to-day advice that anyone – irrespective of what they believe (or don’t) – can follow and obtain good results in so doing.

On the  other hand you cannot reasonably expect an Archbishop of the Catholic Church to say something with a whiff of godlessness. So what’s going on here?

The themes in the piece are love and education. Love is also the essence of being Catholic, but stated as such it is very easy to miss the wood for the trees. Astutely, Archbishop Cremona has built his suggestions around love without once alluding to it as the quintessential Catholic virtue. Not that he is ashamed to do so, mind you. But his strategy has shown the common-sense value of central Catholic principles.

It’s a pity that people associate the words “Catholic Church” with various unsavoury practices. It’s an illogical extrapolation, if you ask me. A bit like shooting the messenger before listening to the message. If we were to concentrate on what the Catholic Church teaches (and not allow our effort to be diverted by a few costly mistakes of some misguided members) we might all learn something.

Remember the elephant.

Toodle-oo.

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