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VALLETTA, Malta (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholics have expressed outrage after Malta's archbishop demonstrated solidarity with LGBTIQ+ activist organizations a couple of days before a faithful priest was dragged to court for "hate speech" against homosexuals.
Archbishop Charles Scicluna and auxiliary bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi met Drachma LGBTI, Allied Rainbow Community, Drachma Parents' Group, LGBTI+ Gozo, and LGBTIQ Rights Malta at the archdiocesan curia in Floriana on Tuesday, a Drachma press release announced.
During the two-hour "positive and flowing conversation," the bishops and the LGBTIQ+ community explored ways of how to make pansexual Catholics "feel more at home with the Church," the statement said.
On Friday, firebrand priest Fr. David Muscat appeared in court accused of "incitement to hatred or violence" over his comments about homosexuality after a complaint was filed by the predominantly Catholic country's Hate Crime and Hate Speech unit.
Magistrate Ian Farrugia rebuked the priest, asking him to be "more prudent in what we say."
"Whether you like it or not, what you say carries weight," Farrugia told Muscat. "People look to you. I don't want any further cases. What's done is done. This is for the future."
A university researcher told Church Militant the meeting between the archbishop and the activists was "carefully timed and publicized to inflict maximum damage on the priest's reputation and to negatively influence the court's decision against Fr. Muscat."
During the meeting, Scicluna stressed "moving away from the language of ideology" and indirectly rebuked Muscat for "speaking without first stopping to think."
"A pity that the archbishop did not practice what he preached when he publicly denounced Fr. David Muscat, without first contacting this priest for clarification or explanation," Philip Beattie, president of the Maltese Society for Christian Civilization told Church Militant.
A true act of love and respect on Mgr. Scicluna's part would have been to preach and explain the austere truths of the Faith to these LGBTI+ activists. He should have exhorted them to carry and embrace the cross and mortification in complete fidelity to Christ. This is what a true pastor concerned with the salvation of souls would have done.
According to the Drachma statement: "One of the things that they spoke about was pride." This is hardly something to boast about, given that it was the pride of the fallen angels that led to the first rebellion against God and His order of creation. There is nothing to be proud of in engaging in acts of depravity contrary to God's law.
As Muscat pleaded not guilty to the charge of hate speech in court, his lawyers, Mariah Mula and Christopher Attard, said they were challenging the accusation that Fr. Muscat's words constituted "hate speech."
Maltese sources close to the highly respected priest told Church Militant that Muscat's words, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church's characterization of homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered and gravely sinful, were taken out of context.
Drachma is a Catholic gay activist body seeking "sexual and spiritual integration." It holds regular meetings at the university chaplaincy and chapel in Msida and LGBTI+ retreats at the Jesuit-run Mount St. Joseph Retreat House in Mosta.
Catholics were scandalized after Drachma organized an adult presentation titled "David and Jonathan" at the Gudja Parish Centre and an event titled "Ruth and Naomi" at the university chapel in 2018.
A reflection on Drachma's website interprets "the beautiful intimate relationship between David and Jonathan, or between Ruth and Naomi, or between Jesus and John the Evangelist" as "rich, diverse and profound[ly] beautiful."
"There is such a richness in this intimacy that goes well beyond the usual moral and doctrinal over-emphasis on genital activity," the reflection notes.
Drachma's interpretation of Genesis challenges the "rigid male-female binary," asking: If "we are so many and we are so different, how come the Bible and society at large still consider the male-female and the heterosexual norm as 'normal' and 'natural?'"
On the feast of the Epiphany, Scicluna publicly rebuked Muscat, instructing the outspoken cleric to stop making "inflammatory and hurtful comments" and warning Muscat he could be barred from exercising his ministry in public.
As Maltese police launched an investigation into Fr. Muscat for "hate speech," the archbishop delivered a televised homily telling gay people, "God loves you for who you are" and apologizing "on behalf of the Church to all those who were hurt by these harsh words."
The prelate is expected to replace 77-year-old Cdl. Luis Ladaria, a conservative who is currently prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Church Militant earlier reported.
Scicluna, who is currently embroiled in a land-grab scandal, has been the target of repeated demonstrations by human rights groups protesting the archbishop's decrees, which pave the way for speculators to buy property worth multi-million euros for use as apartments.
"One can only conclude that Scicluna appears to believe in practicing a distorted form of charity, one that is not grounded in Christian truth, but, rather, one grounded in modernism," Beattie remarked.
"I pray that he will return to the fullness of the Catholic faith and would humbly remind him that charity practiced without truth is meaningless," the president of Pro Malta Christiana urged.
The case against Fr. Muscat has been adjourned until March 4.