The Marsa parish priest's decision to invite same-sex couples to a mass tailored for couples has been welcomed by the Malta Gay Rights Movement.
Parish priest Anthony Fitzpatrick believes he is not doing anything special.
“The Church belongs to everyone. I am simply following what Pope Francis has said and making it clear that everyone is welcome. The House of God is open to all. I am doing this with the support of the Marsa community which is a very warm and welcoming one,” he said.
He explained that the parish organises specialised masses throughout the week where the homily is tailored towards a specific audience. Audiences include the elderly, children and couples. The couples' mass is held on the third Sunday of each month.
In a post shared on the Maria Regina parish church's Facebook page, the flyer promoting the couples' mass showed images of different types of couples, including young, old and same-sex. This was picked up by the MGRM that shared and welcomed the initiative.
No more crying room
Fitzpatrick said that, since becoming the parish priest in September this year, he worked to open up the church to everyone. He even removed the crying room “because children are part of the congregation”.
"I am more distracted by adults answering their mobile phone in church, than by a child crying. I’ve even had children walk onto the altar. I don’t mind it. Besides we are living at a time when we are seeing more children diagnosed with conditions like ADHD and autism. Why should their parents have to stay in the crying room? That way the children never get to experience the church. They are part of the community,” he said.
He added that twice a month he was also organising mass in different streets in Marsa, with the support of the community.