Maltese Archbishop Slammed for Address Praising Stay-At-Home Mothers

Maltese Archbishop Joseph Mercieca triggered an outpouring of criticism with his recent address calling for greater support and praise of mothers who remain home to care for their small children.

The Archbishop called on the state to do everything in its power to help parents give their children the upbringing children deserve, stating that if young parents cannot raise their children together properly because both are “constrained” to work out of the home, that would be “sowing harm” in the lives of the children.

Further, Archbishop Mercieca condemned the modern depiction of the mother who stays home as a “failure” and old-fashioned, saying her noble choice should be recognized and supported in a concrete way.

Outrage and dismissal from political and social leaders followed the Archbishop’s statements, the Times of Malta reported. Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, Cristina Dolores, said his comments would generate guilt among women who had chosen to enter the workforce, and advised him to focus on the problem of missing fathers instead. The executive director of the National Commission for the Promotion of Equality reacted to the address by calling for better social structures that would allow both parents to maintain “personal development” while giving children the care they need.

Charles Buttigieg, public relations officer for the Archbishop, defended the Archbishop’s address in a letter released October 1, 2006, pointing out that the Church’s stand on the issue of working mothers emphasizes the importance of the bond between mother and child, and calls for society’s respect and support for mothers.

“Society must strive to ensure that the family’s collective income permits mothers to have a real choice of whether to work outside the family home or not, especially when they have small children to take care of,” wrote Buttigieg.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to look at women who dedicate themselves to their families as if they are second-class and failed citizens.”

Buttigeig referred to Pope John Paul II’s teaching on the employment and motherhood, which stated:

“While speaking about employment in reference to the family, it is appropriate to emphasise how important and burdensome is the work women do within the family unit: that work should be acknowledged and deeply appreciated. The ‘toil’ of a woman who, having given birth to a child, nourishes and cares for that child and devotes herself to its up-bringing, particularly in the early years, is so great to be comparable to any professional work. This ought to be clearly stated and upheld no less than any other labour right. Motherhood, because of all the hard work it entails, should be recognised as giving the rights to financial benefits at least equal to those of other kinds of work undertaken in order to support the family during such a delicate phase of its life.” (Letter to Families, 17).

“The Church believes that there must be a social re-evaluation of the mother’s role,” Buttigieg wrote, “of the toil connected with it, and of the need that children have for care, love and affection in order that they may develop into responsible, morally and religiously mature and psychologically stable persons.”

Read statement from the Archbishop’s office.

(This article courtesy of

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