Malta seems to be tailor-made for those who, like me, can’t help wondering if and how one can remain fully Catholic in this era of globalisation. Malta is the last European country, perhaps together with Poland, where Catholicism remains a significant part of its national identity. Article 2 of its constitution states: “The religion of Malta is the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion.” At the same time, Malta is enjoying an economic boom that is suddenly planting the seeds of globalisation.

Will the country find the way forward for Catholicism in the 21st century, or will it be caught between two stools like other majority Catholic nations before it? The president of the republic of Malta is Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, a politician from the ranks of its Labour Party who has never concealed her Catholic faith. I had the opportunity to meet her and discuss this topic with her.

Your Excellency, first of all what does it mean to be a Catholic who has the responsibility to play such an important role?

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca Most importantly, being openly Catholic while also being the head of state in a country with a great diversity of religious traditions, and people who observe no religion at all, is the importance of respect. Just as the true message of Christianity is of human freedom, to say “yes” and to cooperate with God’s plan in our lives, so too must a respectful leader stand firmly in truth, but never seek to impose it by force or coercion.

We must always respect one another. Highlighting proactive measures to address a growing lack of respect has become a major part of my work as President of Malta.

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