A lay group of Maltese Catholics has taken out a full-page advertisement in the nation’s largest daily newspaper, calling on Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to discipline one of his priests for recently expressing heterodox opinions on homosexuality on state television.

In the open letter published on Friday in The Times of Malta, the lay group, known as the Maltese Society for Christian Civilisation “Pro Malta Christiana,” also called on Archbishop Scicluna to publicly disassociate himself from the comments made by Father Kevin Schembri March 8 on the Xarabank talkshow.

In his position as adjunct secretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Scicluna is Pope Francis’ point man on clergy sexual abuse and took a leading role in February’s summit of bishops on protection of minors in the Church.  

In the open letter, Pro Malta Christiana said that Maltese faithful “have prudently waited more than two months” for the archbishop to “publicly disassociate the Maltese Church from the scandalous propositions contrary to Christian faith and morals put forward by Father Schembri.”

It added that “given the mysterious silence from your archdiocesan curia on this grave matter,” the group felt it necessary to issue the open letter “to express the sadness, bewilderment and legitimate disappointment felt by innumerable Catholics in Malta at Your Excellency’s silence.”

The letter, signed by Philip Beattie, president of Pro Malta Christiana’s executive council, also stated that the “primary duty of a bishop is to publicly defend” what the Church has “constantly taught over two thousand years.”

Last March Father Schembri’s comments prompted widespread concern when he spoke approvingly of homosexuality as created by God and “part of his plan.”

Father Schembri, who teaches canon law at the University of Malta, also claimed that God created people with “difference sexual orientations,” and that being homosexual “cannot be something bad, because he created it.”

The priest, who is also the archdiocesan defender of the bond and ministers to same-sex attracted people, went on to say that if a person recognizes he is “a gay person as created by God, he does not need to change,” and he would actually be “harming himself” if he did not accept himself “as a gay person.”

Sources told the Register at the time that the archdiocese was “inundated” with complaints. They also said the incident was indicative of a disturbing level of tolerance of homosexual behavior in the once deeply Catholic Mediterranean islands, especially among clergy.

In today’s open letter, the group restated the Church’s teaching on homosexuality, drew on the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas on “the properly human form of love” and referred to “irrefutably and overwhelmingly clear” studies showing that “nobody is born homosexual.”

Sacred Scripture, Catholic Tradition and the Magisterium “have condemned few sins more consistently or severely than sodomy,” the group wrote.

The open letter pressed Archbishop Scicluna to “disciplinarily silence” Father Schembri and to “make a public pronouncement disassociating the Church in Malta from the heterodox opinions he expressed.”

The group added such steps are necessary to “right this wrong,” for the nation, the Church and for the salvations of souls.

The Register asked Archbishop Scicluna if he would like to comment on the letter but at the time of publication, he had not responded.