Religion in Malta

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St Paul's Pro-Cathedral in Valletta, mother church of the Anglican church in Malta

The predominant religion in Malta is that of the Catholic Church. The Constitution of Malta establishes Catholicism as the state religion and it is also reflected in various elements of Maltese culture.

Religion in Malta (2016)[1]

  Catholic Church (88.6%)
  Other Christian (0.8%)
  Only believe in God (1.8%)
  Islam (2.6%)
  Other religions (1.3%)
  Irreligious (4.5%)

Malta's patron saints are St Paul, St Publius and St Agatha. The Assumption of Mary known as Santa Marija is the Special patron of the Maltese Islands.

History of religion in Malta[edit]

Religion and the law[edit]

Constitutional standing[edit]

Article 2 of the Constitution of Malta states that the religion of Malta is the "Roman Catholic apostolic religion" (paragraph 1), that the authorities of the Catholic Church have the duty and the right to teach which principles are right and wrong (paragraph 2) and that religious teaching of the Catholic apostolic faith shall be provided in all state schools as part of compulsory education (paragraph 3).

Malta, a signatory to the Protocol 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights, made a declaration saying that it accepts the protocol's article 2 (on parents' right to have their children educated in line with their religious or philosophical views) only insofar "as it is compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training, and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure, having regard to the fact that the population of Malta is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic".[2]

However, article 2(1) and (3) of the Constitution are not entrenched, unlike article 40 which guarantees full freedom of conscience and of religious worship and bars the requirement of religious instruction or to show proficiency in religion. This means that if the provisions of article 2(1) and (2) are in conflict with the rights guaranteed under article 40, the provisions of the latter prevail.[citation needed] With regards to religious instruction in public schools for example, students may opt to decline participation in Catholic religious lessons.

Malta officially supported Italy and was one of ten states presenting written observations when the case Lautsi v. Italy was to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights over the exhibiting of the crucifix in classrooms.

Religion and public policy[edit]

Malta was the last European country (excluding the Vatican City) to introduce divorce in October 2011 after voting in a referendum on the subject earlier in the year.[3] Furthermore, Malta has also repealed vilification of religion as a crime in July 2016.[4]

Abortion is illegal in all circumstances.[5][6] Over the years some loopholes (non-inclusion of outer territorial waters, no mention of advertising) permitted individuals to circumvent the ban for limited time periods.[7]

Level of religious belief and participation[edit]

According to a Eurobarometer Poll held in 2005, 95% of Maltese responded that they "believe there is a God", 3% responded that they "believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 1% responded that they "don't believe there is any sort of spirit, God or life force" which was the lowest percentage of non-believers in all countries surveyed together with Turkey, Romania and Poland. 1% gave no response.[8]

In a report published in 2006, it was reported that 52.6% of Maltese (older than 7 years and excluding those not able to attend) attended Sunday mass in 2005, down from 75.1% in 1982 and 63.4% in 1995. Hence, Sunday mass attendance has dropped annually by 1% since 1982.[9] According to Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Sunday mass attendance dropped further to roughly 40% by 2015.[10] The 2017 census revealed that 38% of the population attends mass every Sunday. [11]

Church attendance in Malta among Catholics
Year % of weekly church attendance in Malta among Catholics
1982 75.1 75.1
 
1995 63.4 63.4
 
2005 52.6 52.6
 
2017 38.0 38
 

Religious organizations[edit]

Pastoral visits[edit]

Plaque in Valletta commemorating Pope John Paul II's visit in 1990

Pope John Paul II made three pastoral visits to Malta: twice in 1990 and once in 2001. In his last visit he beatified three Maltese people: George Preca (who was then canonised in 2007), Nazju Falzon and Adeodata Pisani.

In April 2010, Pope Benedict XVI also visited Malta in the celebration of the anniversary of 1950 years of the shipwreck of Paul in Malta.[12]

Other denominations and religions in Malta[edit]

Most congregants at the local Protestant churches are not Maltese; many British retirees live in the country, and vacationers from many other nations compose the remainder of such congregations. In 2008, the seven congregations of Jehovah's Witnesses reported 569 active adherents, with an annual Memorial attendance of 1120. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Bible Baptist Church. The Evangelical Alliance of Malta (TEAMalta)[13] has seven churches and two organizations that are affiliated, with about 400 members between them. There is one Greek Catholic church, which also hosts Russian Orthodox services a few times a year (when a patriarch comes over from Moscow to celebrate mass for Eastern Orthodox holidays, like Easter).

Malta does not recognise Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism and a few other global religions that are described as cults. There is one Jewish congregation. There are nearly 100 Hindu families in Malta that practise their own Hindu faith however there are no Hindu temples and the Hindu deceased are often buried in Malta instead of being cremated.

There is one Muslim mosque and a Muslim faith school. Of the estimated 3,000 Muslims in Malta, approximately 2,250 are foreigners, approximately 600 are naturalized citizens, and approximately 150 are native-born Maltese. [14] The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is also present.

Zen Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith also have about 40 members.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "MaltaToday Easter survey". MaltaToday. 2016. Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 27 September 2016. 
  2. ^ http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/Commun/ListeDeclarations.asp?PO=MAL&NT=009&MA=999&CV=1&NA=&CN=999&VL=1&CM=5&CL=ENG
  3. ^ "MPs in Catholic Malta pass historic law on divorce". BBC News. 25 July 2011. 
  4. ^ http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20160712/local/bill-decriminalising-vilification-of-religion-approved-a-sad-day-for.618649
  5. ^ "Europe's abortion rules". BBC News. 12 February 2007. 
  6. ^ "Malta Government Responds to EU's Pro-Abortion Recommendation". Euthanasia.com. 23 July 2002. Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Steven Ertelt (17 July 2006). "Malta pro-life advocates can't stop Spain abortion business from running ads". Life News.com. Retrieved 18 June 2006. 
  8. ^ Special Eurobarometer Social values, Science and Technology, Secial Eurobarometer 225 / Wave 63.1 – TNS Opinion & Social (PDF), European Commission, June 2005, p. 9, archived from the original (PDF) on 6 April 2007 
  9. ^ "Preliminary Report" (PDF). Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Percentage of Maltese who attend Church has dropped to about 40% - Mgr Charles Scicluna". The Malta Independent. 24 March 2015. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Church census reveals around 40% attend Sunday mass regularly - Mgr Charles Scicluna". Malta Today. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 13 June 2018. 
  12. ^ Alessandra Stanley (9 May 2001). "Valletta Journal: Malta greets the Pope like a beloved spa client". New York Times. Retrieved 18 June 2006. 
  13. ^ http://teamalta.org
  14. ^ "International Religious Freedom Report 2003 – Malta". Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State. Retrieved 9 January 2008. 

External links[edit]