Freedom and responsibility

In his over enthusiasm to defend liberty and liberalism, Martin Scicluna applauds the direction Malta is taking, intoxicating us with high-sounding catchwords and decrying what he portrays as the bigoted views of others.

For good measure, he slurs the outstandingly positive contribution of Christianity by making sweeping derogatory and indiscriminating references to religion.

He can fill acres of newsprint with slogans and adjectives but, in the end, he has to convince us that our concerns are misplaced. Words such as tolerance, democracy, choice etc. can be bandied about but in themselves are no guarantee of genuine improvement unless anchored to a sound ethical framework.

It is being increasingly realised that the ideals of liberty and personal responsibility have increasingly drifted apart. Although personal responsibility cannot exist without liberty, liberty will not endure without responsibility and will eventually lead to decadence and moral decay.

Progress is a very positive sounding concept but we should also be very concerned about the direction in which it is taking us. For example, what is so liberating about divorce? The very concept of loyalty to one’s vows freely taken is made legally worthless. Rather than making it convenient for couples to take the ‘easy way out’, governments should be supporting the common good by finding solutions to support and strengthen their marriages.

Society esteems those who stick to their commitments. For instance, we admire soldiers on the parade ground but we admire them even more when placed in mortal danger to defend their friends, families and country, their honour, their colours. One does not condone desertion.

The ideals of liberty and personal responsibility have increasingly drifted apart 

The same applies to families. Despite the best intentions and hopes, life is unpredictable and a continual challenge and we admire families most when they face with fortitude and dignity untimely bereavement, illness, financial setbacks and other misfortunes.

A country that wants the best for its people promotes the common good by fostering citizens who are responsible, who value self-control and self-discipline and have the readiness to sacrifice their egoism in the interests of their family and society.

Meanwhile, I fail to see how irresponsible sexual activity fuelled by contraception, abortive pills, drugs and prostitution are welcome developments. On the contrary, the acceptance and promotion of reckless behaviour harms people, impacts on the wider community and even leads to the destruction of the most vulnerable.

And here lies the singular let-down of the Catholic politician which I mentioned in the article Scicluna chose to refer to.

The Nationalist Party, in particular, betrayed its core values that are at the centre of human flourishing. It abstained when adoption was dishonestly linked to civil union between homosexuals. It failed again over the issue of vilification, on the morning after pill and the recent insidious ‘Equality Bill’.

Catholic politicians, especially those in a political party that claims to have a Christian ethos, have shirked their responsibilities by showing that they lack the courage and consistency to live up to their professed ideals.

Thankfully, Edwin Vassallo was the notable exception. He had the resolve and integrity to be true to his beliefs and principles that, after all, are shared by many of the Maltese.

Sadly, unfolding consequences of the current trends will soon show how misplaced Scicluna’s optimistic confidence in liberalism will prove to be.

I conclude with the wise words of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger: “The history of liberation can never occur except as a history of growth in responsibility. Increase of freedom can no longer lie simply in giving more and more latitude to individual rights, which leads to absurdity and to the destruction of those very individual freedoms themselves.”

Dr. Klaus Vella Bardon is deputy chairman of Life Network Foundation Malta


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