ERG welcomes consultation with Catholic Church
‘Open dialogue in good faith is the only way forward,’ Equality Rights Group Chair, Felix Alvarez, has stated following the first of a series of consultation meetings reporting to the Bishop of Gibraltar, the Right Reverend Carmelo Zammit.
‘The consultation involves a wide number of local community voices (not necessarily Catholic or even religious) and is an initiative which comes directly from the Vatican, as Pope Francis has asked his bishops to foster a focus group process of open feedback and discussion for the Church from within civil society on issues regarding the Church as an institution and community of faith. It is part of His Holiness Pope Francis’ establishment of a Synod structure for this purpose, which we understand to be a once-in-many-generations public consultation.
‘On behalf of my organisation,’ the ERG Chair continued, ‘I was pleased to accept the invitation, and thus to open the door to on-going good relations with the Church as part of our own work towards promoting civil society’s sense of responsibility to our community. It is a welcome and positive move,’ Mr. Alvarez said.
‘A good number of people of faith in our community have for too long felt left out from what, for them, is an important element of their lives: their faith. And this should worry not only the Roman Catholic Church but Christian denominations more broadly. Hopefully, this consultation opens up a process long-term with the local Church beyond the papal focus group, which could set the stage for greater understanding all round. This is indeed a healthy and worthwhile objective, and one which I as Chair of ERG am unconditionally open to pursuing with faith groups in establishing open channels of communication and good relations.
‘As a serious and well-established organisation in our community, ERG owes it to our society to engage at all levels in order to foster respect and caring amongst us all on an array of broad issues touching on people’s rights,’ Mr. Alvarez pointed out.
‘It is true that there has been much confrontation in the past with regard to the place and status of LGBT+ people and the Church. But this has not been beneficial to anybody – neither to the Church nor to citizens of any faith. It is time we sat round the table not just now, but on an on-going basis, and spoke to each other responsibly and as fellow human beings, even if our points of departure may differ.
‘With our long track record of serious success, Equality Rights Group will continue to emphasise and highlight not our separateness, but our togetherness, our sense of belonging to each other, and the necessary solidarity we all need so much,’ the statement ended.