While in Malta a few months ago I commented that Malta is so conservative that it is one of only three countries in the world to outlaw divorce. Well, fair is fair, there has been a referendum and 53% of the Maltese people voted in favour of legalising divorce. The new laws, when they get passed by parliament, will still be among the most restrictive in the world, but it is progress. Actually, the proposed new laws are so strict that it is remarkable that only 53% approved:
Do you agree with the introduction of the option of divorce in the case of a married couple who has been separated or has been living apart for at least four (4) years, and where there is no reasonable hope for reconciliation between the spouses, whilst adequate maintenance is guaranteed and the children are protected?
Seems pretty straightforward to me, hard to find an objection to that law. Of course, that is forgetting the role of the Catholic Church. No surprise, they came out in force against the law - the Archbishop of Gozo went to far as to say that whoever votes yes will never be accepted back into the Church or receive communion again. In other words, vote to allow divorce and go to hell for eternity.
What is most revealing, though, is how the Church has tried to play both sides. Like always, it will campaign hard against any form of progress, whether it be in anti-slavery movements, women's rights or individual freedom, but once it loses it will try to sweep its past under the mat. Threaten everyone with excommunication to force them to maintain the Church power, but once the law has passed pretend like the Church wasn't an implacable foe and try to keep as much credibility (and power) as possible.
In Malta, the Church started its damage control before the voting had already begun - they wrote a statement saying that they regretted it if anyone was hurt by the words of the Church and they would unconditionally forgive anyone who voted "yes" (the sanctimonious pricks). Yes, they wrote this statement days before the referendum and gave it to the media - but placed an embargo on its release until voting closed. Iron-clad evidence that they were throwing around empty threats of eternal damnation in order to sway the political debate. How many times can the Church do this before their bluff gets called once and for all?