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In Fulham sermon, Bishop urges lawmakers to strengthen family bonds

The Bishop of Gibraltar, Carmel Zammit, has appealed to Gibraltar’s lawmakers to explore legislative ways to strengthen family life on the Rock.

In a sermon during the traditional Gibraltar Day in London mass at Our Lady of Dolours church in Fulham, Bishop Zammit also appealed for caution when passing new laws that could impact on social and cultural outlooks.

“One has to remember that usually, changes in the law also change the outlook of people on certain matters,” he said, adding that just because something was legal did not make it “ethically OK”.

The Bishop appealed to “those in power” to be “very careful on how far one goes” in introducing new legislation which could impact on the community’s outlook on life and on the family.

He did not explicitly mention the recent change to allow same-sex marriage, but it was clear his sermon was at least in part prompted by that development, and by others that may potentially be on the horizon. 

“It is our belief and the Church’s teaching - and many people agree with it - that life should be protected and respected from its initial state to its natural end,” he said.

He said there were numerous challenges to family life and that the results were often visible in the form of broken families and suffering children.

“Gibraltar has always prided itself on having strong family values,” the Bishop said, urging family-friendly legislation and initiatives to strengthen the family unit.

He cited by way of example pre-marriage and post-wedding counselling, alongside legislation to support those who give up work to care for family members.

During his sermon, the Bishop reflected on how Gibraltar had changed - “mostly for the better” since he first travelled to the Rock in the 1970s.

This was his first Gibraltar Day mass as Bishop, and he  paused too to acknowledge the important supportive role played by the Fulham church for Gibraltarians evacuated to London during World War II.

“Celebrating Gibraltar day is an important collective statement about the identity of the people, even if they are not within Gibraltar,” he said.

The mass was attended by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo and his wife Justine, together with Gibraltar Government ministers Albert Isola and Steven Linares.

Among the gusts attending was Elizabeth Rutherford, the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The service was followed by a reception at Fulham Palace.