Our constitutional history shows an important balance between national identity and freedom of religion, Archbishop Charles Scicluna told Newsbook.com.mt during the signing of his new book.
On Thursday, ‘Religion and the 1921 Malta Constitution, Genesis and Implications’ was launched at the Archbishop’s Curia.
The launch was addressed by Gordon Pisani from Kite Group, Mgr George Grima, former EU Commissioner Tonio Borg, Judge Emeritus Giovanni Bonello and the Archbishop himself.
Asked whether the publication of the book was purely coincidental or whether it was intentional, since a public consultation is currently ongoing on the Constitution, Mgr Scicluna explained that in the context of recent discussion on possible revisions to the Constitution, he had revisited the research he had carried out in 1985 on the genesis of the Declaration of the Religion of Malta as it was developed in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
That research and the dissertation that resulted from it was in part fulfilment of the requirement for his Licentiate in Pastoral Theology from the Faculty of Theology.
Archbishop Scicluna added that he felt the need to publish the research and contribute to a profound reflection.
“In no way should anyone feel bound with decisions before the consultation has been concluded,” Archbishop remarked, explaining that he, however, felt that it is an important contribution to the process, irrespective of any decision which will eventually be taken.
The study of the Declaration of the Religion of Malta in our constitutional history, Mgr Scicluna explained, is an important balance between our national identity that no one can erase and the freedom of religion for everyone.
Publisher Gordon Pisani from Kite Group told a packed hall that there were various reasons why the publishing house partnered up with the Archbishop in this project. He described the work as an important publication for Melitensia.
“It would have been a pity if this research was not made available for those interested in the subject,” Pisani stated, adding that the research is of high quality and so is the writing. He added that as a publishing house they aim to publish books which contribute to strengthening Malta’s identity.
Pisani remarked that the book does not show nostalgia but discloses that the discussion on the relation between religion and the Constitution has a particular history and tradition. He stressed that the book gives a background, thus the conversation could be held in a context rather than in a vacuum.
Mgr George Grima said that he found it difficult to criticise the work. He told those present that it was his wish to see the work eventually made available to a wider audience so that one may understand how the issue of the religion clause in our Constitution has developed throughout the years.
The Former EU Commissioner who lectures on constitutional law at the Faculty of Laws at the University of Malta, Tonio Borg, spoke about the legal history.
Judge Emeritus Giovanni Bonello in his conclusion gave the Archbishop ’homework’ for his next book, suggesting that he look into the contribution of clerics to the development of the Maltese Constitution.
Editing: Miguela Xuereb