The bishops said last night they were sorry if anyone felt upset by the words or deeds of Church members in the run-up to the divorce referendum.

In a note issued ahead of today’s eagerly awaited result – but embargoed until after votes had been cast – the bishops said they felt the need to share their reflections in the aftermath of society’s and the Church’s efforts and investment in favour of marriage and the family.

“To all those who took an active part on both sides (of the campaign), we wish to express regret if somebody felt hurt by words or actions from members of the Church,” the bishops wrote.

“Also we assure everyone that we unconditionally forgive those who we feel have hurt us. Each and every one of us has to reflect, even on a personal level, on the suffering we may have inflicted on others.”

The short pastoral note was signed by Archbishop Paul Cremona, Gozo Bishop Mario Grech and Auxiliary Bishop Annetto Depasquale.

Looking back on the campaign, the bishops said not enough importance was given to the common stand of investing more in marriage and the family.

The time was ripe, they said, to translate these ideas into concrete action to help and direct young couples seeking to tie the knot.

The Church had always contributed in preparing those seeking marriage as a sacrament and was committed to continue doing so.

“We promise to profoundly reflect on how we can improve our work to ensure the Christian family is truly a force of love and stability...

“We have to coordinate all the Church’s efforts to accompany married couples on their beautiful, yet arduous journey,” the bishops said.

They appealed to everyone from both sides of the divorce debate to propose and help implement concrete proposals towards this aim, whether couples chose to get married in the Church or through a civil ceremony.

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