Malta is a predominantly Catholic country. The Constitution of independent Malta establishes Catholicism as the state religion. There are many countries where Islam is the state religion, but very few mostly scecularized Christian countries. The patron saints are St Paul, St Publius, and St Agatha. Nearly 90 percent of the population is Catholic and some of the rest is other Christian denominations. Only about 3 percent is Muslim. Catholocism is deeply inbedded in many aspects of Maltese culture and law. The country is much less secular than most of Europe. Malta was the last European country (except the Vatican) to introduce divorce (October 2011). Malta has also repealed vilification of religion as a crime (2016). Abortion continues, however, to be illegal with very few exceptions. Many Maltese children as the Church coninues to be so important in Maltese life do First Communion. And many still dress very formally in white or off white outfits. Most do their First Communion in June. One source tells us, "It’s that time of year again when church steps are full of kids in white satin, hair brushed, toothpaste smiles in front of camera for their big day – their first Holy Communion. Here, Anne Muscat Scerri, whose own young daughters are going through the ritual one by one, contemplates its significance – for the kids, the parents and the local community. There’s no divorcing the religious act from the way society ticks it seems. Maltese Culture, community and Catholicism all blend and at no time more so than now". [Debono] In preparing for First Communioin, the children aged 6 to 7 years of age go to Catechism lessons twice a week. This continues for a whole year. They learn all about Jesus and God and the Apostles. This is in additiuon to religious instruction in the schools. In the kindergarten and primary years, religious stories are told on an almost daily basis.
Debono, Mark. "God Bless the Little Children who do Holy Communion," Malta Inside Out (May 12, 2010).
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