We are forgetting where we come from and we do not know where we are going, says Bishop

Continued from yesterday

The Panorama interview

Times have changed significantly since the Bishop was responsible for local schools where every student took part in religious education, many up to GCSE level. 

“R.E is a casualty of the national curriculum,” he said. “In order to cover more subjects, R.E suffered. That is a fact.”

Monsignor Zammit believes that some people want to ‘relegate the church to the sacristy’ (a room at the back of the church where a priest prepares for a service).

“Those people feel that the Church should not have a voice, but they forget that the culture, benefits and freedom we have in Europe are, in effect, the teachings of the Catholic Church,” he said. “We would not be where we are now were it not for the Christian Church. The values we have are Christian values and we are putting these values aside now because we think we can go it alone, without God.”

The Bishop said that a society with the latter mentality will eventually destroy itself because ‘those who think for themselves will always disregard others’.

“It will be a society where the individual will put himself first, second and third before others,” he said. “This is the type of society we are moving towards.”

However, he believes that Gibraltar harbours very bright people and very good teachers, despite the Rock’s limitations.

“Now the educational system will be revolutionised, which will offer new challenges that we have to answer,” he said. “I would like religious education, which is part of the basic curriculum, to be given more importance and taught with conviction. I hope that it will not suffer anymore and children learn what it means to be a Christian.”


When asked whether Gibraltar’s Christian family values were under threat because of the increase of this frame of mind, Monsignor Zammitt agreed wholeheartedly.

“I would say yes. We are forgetting where we come from and we do not know where we are going,” he said. “That is the tragedy of it. Family is the basic cell of any society. If we continue to have the disintegration of family life, which is slowly increasing, we will destroy that cell.”

Monsignor Zammit lamented the rapid increase in divorce cases since he was a priest in Gibraltar over 40 years ago where cases of divorce were ‘rare’.

“Perhaps five out of 25 pupils in a classroom stemmed from cases of divorce,” he said. “Nowadays things have changed dramatically. I wouldn’t go as far as saying the majority but certainly a large percentage of children speak about divorce within their families.”


The biggest feast and celebration in the Christian calendar is Easter, not Christmas, despite the commercialisation of the holiday that shrouds its true meaning.

The culmination of Easter is the holy week, which started on Palm Sunday (last Sunday) where Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem is celebrated ‘in a magnificent way’.

“However, four days later, instead of welcoming him, people called for the messiah to be crucified, which is quite a change in tone. We believe that the passion death and resurrection of Jesus is the fulcrum of our faith,” he said. “Jesus was born as the son of God for one reason, to show God’s love for man and to redeem us. Jesus redeemed us through suffering. Although we try and avoid it, suffering has value. Anything worthwhile in life involves suffering.”

Monsignor Zammit said there was no other religion that says death is not the end but rather the beginning of something better.

“Jesus destroyed death and restored life,” he said. “That is what we celebrate. If you do not accept that, then you are not a Christian. St Paul said that if Christ did not resurrect from the dead, then our faith is meaningless.”

When asked whether he was concerned at the commercialisation of Easter through vast sales of Easter eggs and pictures of bunnies hopping about, he said: “The egg has a meaning and I hope people know what it is,” he said. “An Easter egg symbolises the beginning of life and that is what we are celebrating. It is a reminder that Jesus gave us life.”