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LITTERAE COMMUNIONIS •2016-2017

MALTA MALTESE PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION For the first time, Malta took the role of Presidency between January and June 2017. Malta focused on the following priorities: migration, the single market, security, social inclusion, Europe’s neighbourhood and the sustainability and development of the maritime sector. GENERAL ELECTION Malta held its general election on 3 June 2017 and the Labour party led by Joseph Muscat gained a majority of 55% of the popular vote. This election was held after four years of a five-year term with allegations of corruption marking the campaign. The state opening of the thirteenth Parliament since independence took place on June 24 starting with a Pontifical Mass presided over by His Grace Mgr Charles J. Scicluna. For that occasion, the Bishops published a Pastoral Letter (May 2017), entitled Shouldering our responsibility. LAWS July 2016: Parliament approves amendments to the Criminal Act that repeal legislation that censured the vilification of religion, decriminalises pornography and criminalises revenge porn. December 2016 - Law penalizing gay conversion therapy: Under the new “Affirmation of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Gender Expression Act”, anyone found guilty of trying to “change, repress or eliminate a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression” will face fines or a jail sentence. July 2017: Approval of Marriage Equality Bill which legalizes Gay marriage. MIGRATION As part of the Year of Mercy, the Church ran a campaign to address the reality of migration at the parish level. Named ‘Nilqgħu lil barranin’ (Welcoming the stranger), this initiative was administered by the Malta Emigrants Commission (MEC) and saw no less than 90 migrants being hosted and/or supported by no less than 20 parishes in Malta and 4 in Gozo. This complements the work that is being done by the Emigrants Commission and the Jesuit Refugee Service on the level of advocacy, support for asylum seekers and accommodation (14

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M E L I T A

PRESIDENT HIS GRACE MGR. CHARLES SCICLUNA ARCHBISHOP OF MALTA

SECRETARY GENERAL REV. JIMMY BONNICI

residencies that can accommodate up to 400 people). Throughout 2016-2017, the Diocese of Gozo entered into various Private Public Partnerships (PPP) with the Government of Malta, opening respite centres and shelter homes for the old and ageing. PALLIATIVE CARE Both in society at large and in Parliament, end of life issues are being raised and the possibility of medically-assisted dying contemplated. In this context the bishops wrote an open letter to the Members of Parliament with regards to palliative care. (Bishops’ Open Letter to the Members of the Maltese Parliament on medicallyassisted dying. 24th July 2016). Moreover the Church in Malta took the initiative to join forces with Hospice Malta (a voluntary organization) to open, in the coming years, a specialized home offering professional care free of charge. The new home will be known as St Michael’s Hospice. The facility will be managed by a registered foundation in collaboration with entities already active in the field. ECUMENISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE From 26 June to 2 July 2016 the Diocese of Gozo welcomed nineteen Christian Iraqi students aged between 12 and 16 and five teachers who live in Erbil on an educational, cultural and spiritual exchange programme, as part of the Jubilee of Mercy celebrations. A number of initiatives – including a concert and prayer service with the participation of the Otto Philharmonic Orchestra of Berlin (20 and 22 April 2017) – were organized for the fifth centenary of the Lutheran reformation with the collaboration of the Diocesan Ecumenical Commission. In August 2016, Bishop Mario Grech invited Mohammed Elsadi, Imam of the Muslim Community in Malta, to participate in the festal Mass during the Santa Marija feast in Gozo, with the aim of fostering better relationships between the Catholic and Muslim community. Inspired by the Lebanese Council of Ministers (2010) to declare the 25 March – feast of the Annunciation – a national day, as of 2011 one particular parish in Malta has taken the initiative to organize on an annual basis a ChristianMuslim encounter of prayer and reflection. This

Litterae Communions 2017 (English version)  

CCEE Litterae communionis contains the annual report (June 2016 - June 2017) of Bishops' Conferences in Europe.

Litterae Communions 2017 (English version)  

CCEE Litterae communionis contains the annual report (June 2016 - June 2017) of Bishops' Conferences in Europe.

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