The government of Malta has signed a new agreement with the Vatican that effectively reverses a previous concordat, which gave the church’s ecclesiastical tribunal precedence over the civil courts in annulment cases.
In the past, in a separation case, the civil courts could not take on the case if it had already been initiated in the ecclesiastical tribunal, while if a case starts in the civil court but either of the couple decided to take it to the ecclesiastical tribunal, the civil case would be halted.
With the new agreement, if a couple agree to take the case to the ecclesiastical tribunal and conclude it there, the decision would be registered civilly, but either of the couple can take the case to the civil courts instead, which would then take precedence.
Foreign minister George Vella said “This is a secular state, while the church has its own rights to voice its opinions. We will legislate according to the needs of a country whose nationals have different beliefs.”
http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/na tional/Maltese-courts-no-longer-subservient-to- Ecclesiastical-tribunals-20140127
Vice-President Malta Humanist Society