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MALTA, July 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Three years after Malta’s Parliament legalized same-sex civil unions, the nation's Parliament this evening changed its laws in a whipped vote to allow two men or two women to call their homosexual relationship “marriage.”

The amendment to the country’s Marriage Act and other related laws legalizes homosexual “marriage” by eradicating the words “husband” and “wife” and replacing them with the gender-neutral word “spouse.” The words “mother” and “father” were also replaced by the word “parent.” 

“The object of this Bill is to modernise the institution of marriage and ensure that all consenting, adult couples have the legal right to enter into marriage,” the bill states. 

The bill also changes the language surrounding adoption so that two persons of the same-sex can easily adopt children. While media hype surrounding the bill focuses exclusively on “equality,” pro-family campaigners note that there will be no equality for those children attached to same-sex “married” couples who will be deprived of a mother or father in their upbringing. 

Nationalist Party MP Edwin Vassallo was the sole vote against the bill.

“With respect to my beliefs, the people, the Parliament, and society I will be voting against this law,” he said. 

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who says he is Catholic, pledged to quickly introduce a gay “marriage” law in the predominantly Catholic country after his Labour Party won a snap election last month. 

Muscat told the BBC prior to the vote that promoting the LGBT agenda is a top priority of his administration.

“Malta wants to keep leading on LGBT issues and civil liberties, to serve as a model for the rest of the world,” he said. 

Maltese bishops missing in action 

Catholic faith in Malta stretches back some 2,000 years to Saint Paul's shipwreck on the island while on his way to Rome. The Constitution of Malta states that the “Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion” is the official state religion. Almost 90 percent of Malta’s 431,000 citizens say they are Catholic, including the Prime Minister. 

While Saint Paul, regarded as the country's spiritual father, is known for his strong condemnation of homosexual behaviors, the same cannot be said of his current successors, the country’s bishops. 

Malta’s principal Catholic leaders have been largely missing in action since Muscat pledged to legalize homosexual “marriage.”  

But not entirely.

Last month Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna said in a homily that no law can change the fact that marriage remains exclusively a union between a man and a woman, a union that leads to procreation.

“We can do what we like in our laws. I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name. We call them trees. But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange, whatever the law says. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman,” he said.

Scicluna also told the BBC that the “suppression of the cherished terms 'husband and wife', 'mother and father' in Maltese law is lamentable.”

But there has been no call from Scicluna or Gozo Bishop Mario Grech for Maltese Catholics to pray or fast so that the legislation fails to pass. There has also been no explanations of Catholic teaching on marriage issued on the Archdiocesan website. There has simply been no leadership, no rallying call to oppose the legislation.

In May, when Catholic faithful in Malta published a full page ad in a widely read paper defending real marriage against “unnatural” homosexual “marriage,” the Archdiocese of Malta headed by Scicluna criticized the ad as “propaganda,” saying it had nothing to do with the group. 

Malta Archbishop Charles Scicluna.

And while Scicluna distanced himself from a faithful Catholic group, he drew close to pro-homosexual group “Drachma LGBTI” that labels itself “Catholic,” even though it campaigns for the Catholic Church to accept homosexual “marriage,” sodomy, and adoption of children by same-sex couples. 

Scicluna has not only presided at a Eucharistic celebration for “Drachma LGBTI,” but has unofficially given the group a free pass to operate with his Archdiocese. The group made headlines last month after posting images of a prayer event in a Catholic chapel to end “homophobia” where an altar was draped in a rainbow “gay pride” flag. 

Scicluna has also openly dissented from Catholic teaching on homosexuality, telling Malta Indep in an interview last year that homosexual civil unions are a “service to the dignity of these people.”

“I think that we should support legislation that gives same-sex partners their dignity and their social protection,” he said in the March 19, 2016, video interview that was posted to YouTube. 

The Catholic Church teaches that God created humans as “male and female” and gave them to each other in marriage so they could “increase and multiply.” Sexual attraction and sexual acts between a male and female are specifically created by God for the purpose of procreation. The Catholic Church is therefore logical and consistent when she teaches that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity” and “intrinsically disordered” since they are “contrary to the natural law” in that they “close the sexual act to the gift of life.” 

“They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

And since God did not make a mistake in creating humans as male and female for one another, the Church also teaches that same-sex attraction is “objectively disordered” since God created members of the opposite sex to be attracted to one another for the sake of procreation. 

The lackluster response of the Maltese bishops to the gay “marriage” bill follows on the heels of the country's bishops deciding earlier this year to allow civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery to receive Communion. 

But there are some who have raised a voice of opposition to the bill. 

Yesterday a coalition of hundreds of pro-life-and-family Christians, atheists, and Muslims protested the “marriage” equality bill in front of Parliament, saying that it would dismantle the traditional family.

Former Azzjoni Nazzjonali candidate Philip Beatie said during the rally that amending the marriage law was simply “Communist” because it imposed “uniformity” between male-and-female unions and same-sex unions where there was none, reported Times of Malta

Beatie also echoed concerns expressed by life-and-family advocates that the amendments will open a Pandora’s box to abuses against human life. 

“The law hides its true intentions to introduce surrogacy and sperm donation and is another attack on life by a government that believes it can replace God,” he said. 

Beatie said that while redefining marriage would mark the “ugliest day in this country’s history,” nevertheless, the “last victory will still be with Christian civilization and democracy.”

Malta Prime Minister, a Catholic in good standing?

Catholic leadership in Malta has related to the Prime Minister as if he were a Catholic in good standing. On the morning of his swearing in ceremony where Muscat announced his push for same-sex “marriage,” a National Maltese TV station filmed the Prime Minister along with his wife and family having a private Mass in his home. Muscat is shown receiving Holy Communion. The Xarabank program of the event was run days later (Private mass begins at 27:46 of linked video).

Catholic sources in Malta told LifeSiteNews that they suspect the incident may have been a media stunt to portray the Prime Minister as a faithful Catholic in order to win Catholics over and improve his public image in general. 

“It is a great scandal to see the Prime Minister of Malta — a baptised Catholic of immense responsibility and authority — constantly approving laws that go against Catholic teaching and still being portrayed as a practising Catholic. Even worse is the fact that there has been no public outcry from other Catholics, not even by the Church hierarchy,” a Catholic source in Malta, who asked to remain anonymous, told LifeSiteNews.

“It has become common for many Catholic politicians here in Malta to publicly attend Catholic Mass while obstinately working to enact laws such as this marriage amendment that go directly against what the Catholic Church stands for,” the source said. 

Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo was also the sole politician who voted against the bill during its second reading. He became a kind of hero to those resisting the bill’s passage. 

Vassallo criticized the bill prior to the vote as a “dishonest law” that will change the very fabric of the Maltese culture that loves and respects life and the family. 

He said the bill is essentially “totalitarian.”

“The predominant logic of Busuttil and Muscat is a totalitarian logic that does not allow any ideas that are different to theirs. Today, parliament is founded on the ideals of democracy and liberty, but when it really matters – on issues that are fundamental issues of conscience which are tied to human dignity – if you dare to have a different opinion than your leader, you are doomed to either vote as your party dictates, or declare your vote against the will of the party,” he told the Independent

Same-sex couples are anticipating “marrying” in Malta before the end of the month.