For the second year in a row, there were more civil marriages in Malta than religious marriages. This major change to the traditional Maltese wedding has been slowly happening, with the amount of people choosing to have a civil marriage with their partner nearly doubling over the last seven years.
Whereas there were 740 civil marriages in 2010, there were 1,349 in 2017. In the same period, there were 1,547 religious weddings in 2010, and 1,208 in 2017, showing a clear shift in Maltese culture.
If this trend keeps up, the traditional Maltese wedding may soon become the traditional civil marriage.
A more secular society
This shift comes from parts of Maltese society becoming more secular, as well as due to the change in law regarding divorce and civil marriages. It also reflects more gay and lesbian couples getting married and settling down in Malta, as well as an increase in secular foreigners marrying in this country.
Civil marriages accounted for 49.3% of all marriages in 2015, and overtook religious marriages for the first time in 2016, when there were 1,354 Church weddings. 2017 was the second year in a row that civil marriages outnumbered church weddings in Malta.
This growing trend could change the culture surrounding weddings in Malta, with more and more couples turning to civil marriages as their preferred type of marriage. Alternatively, there are couples who have a civil marriage, and then go to the church afterwards for its blessings.
The church needs to “look at itself”
Dun Gorg Dalli, the vice Parish priest in the church of St Sebastian in Qormi, told One News that he wasn’t shocked with the statistics. He said that a decrease in one and an increase in the other doesn’t necessary mean a correlation, and he also said that one must note the difference “getting married in a church, and getting married with the church.”
He believes this change is coming about due to less traditionally cultural pressures. He also said that many couples who have a civil marriage still come to the church for a blessing anyway, “not in a formal manner but in a spiritual manner, as they still want to invite Jesus into their relationship.”
That said, he also believed the Catholic church needed to have a good look at itself, as well as follow the call of Pope Francis who also said that the church must change its “vision”.