Gibraltar’s new Roman Catholic Bishop has given his commitment to being “a bridge builder” in society. At his Installation in a packed Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned on Saturday afternoon, on the feast of Our Lady of Mercy, Bishop of Gibraltar Carmel Zammit welcomed everyone emphasising there is a “place and space” in the Church for all.
“Whether married or separated or divorced, for sinners and for holy people and for not so holy people and, for people of all sexual orientations,” he said.
No one, he insisted, was excluded because everyone was entitled to the “same dignity and respect in our Church and in society.”
Moments earlier, the ceremony which began with the procession of bishops and priests on the Main Street to the Cathedral, had seen a break in tradition. Upon arrival the Bishop was received with the Cathedral main doors fully opened and not closed as in the past. Having acquired his sacramental powers at his ordination in Malta, he took possession of the Diocese, acquiring his jurisdictional powers at his installation.
Met by the Apostolic Administrator Bishop Heskett and Cathedral Rector Monsignor Paul Bear, he kissed the crucifix and sprinkled the congregation with holy water as a reminder of their baptism. He was then led in procession to the Alter of the Blessed Sacrament for a brief moment of adoration. Guests included the Governor Ed Davis, Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Maltese Government representative Minister Stefan Buontempo, Leader of the Opposition Danny Feetham, Speaker and Mayor Adolfo Canepa, Deputy Chief Minister Dr Joseph Garcia, Minister Joe Bossano, and former Chief Minister Sir Peter Caruana.
In his Homily, which was warmly received with a rare occurrence of applause from the congregation, Bishop Zammit warned that there were those “who would like the Church to limit its presence to within its walls and to remain silent outside.”
But the church he stressed “had both a role to play in society and the same freedom as everyone else, so valued in Gibraltar, to outwardly and openly express its view when important religious, social or cultural questions crop up.”
He quickly pointed out that this should not be considered as inappropriate interference in the political sphere.
“The Church does not impose its views on others,” he said, “it has no power to do so. But it has every right to say and propose what it considers to be best for the common good.”
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