Will Italy Face a Religious Persecution With the Vatican’s Complicity?

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Will Italy Face a Religious Persecution With the Vatican’s Complicity?
Will Italy Face a Religious Persecution With the Vatican’s Complicity?

In some weeks, I could go to jail in Italy, where I live, for what I’m about to write.

The reason for this dramatic affirmation is an “anti-discrimination” law that could pass soon. For many years, the left has been trying to force through this law that would, in practice, forbid any preaching of moral principles, especially Catholic ones.

It all began in 1993 with the Mancino Bill that condemns “phrases, gestures, actions and slogans with the purpose of promoting hate speech, incitement to violence, discrimination or violence on racial, ethnic, religious or national grounds.” It also prohibits the use of symbols that “incite hatred.”

The bill was promoted by then-Minister of Interior Nicola Mancino. His name easily lent itself to a joke since “mancino” in Italian means left-handed… Indeed, the bill was exclusively left-handed. While it prohibited the use of fascist symbols, it said nothing about communist ones. While it condemned discrimination against immigrants, it said nothing about the discrimination against Catholics.

Over the years, the terms “racial, ethnic, religious or national grounds” were broadened to include any doctrine or conduct that fell on the left side of the political spectrum. Any anti-socialist or anti-communist stance could be considered an “incitement to hate.” Conservatives, thus, had to be very careful about what they said or did so as not to fall under the guillotine of the Mancino Law.

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In 2013, left-wing MP Ivan Scalfarotto introduced a bill to fight against homophobia and transphobia. It extended the Mancino Law to included homosexuals, transsexuals, bisexuals and so forth. They are treated like ethnic groups. Thus an anti-homosexual position would be considered “racist.” Fortunately, after approval by the Chamber of Deputies, the bill was struck down in the Senate. It was a great victory for the pro-family movement.

Taking advantage of an interim government in 2013 formed by the Partito Democratico, the successor of the Italian Communist Party, Minister Elsa Fornero issued the “National strategy for the prevention and combating of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.” This set of norms imposed LGBT education in Italian schools. This decree was overtly anti-Catholic since it condemned the “homophobic model stemming from Religion, that considers homosexuality a sin.”

The libertarian left, powerfully supported by the LGBT lobbies, attacked again in 2018. MP Alessandro Zan, a homosexual militant, presented yet another bill to establish “measures to prevent and combat discrimination and violence for reasons based on sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity or disability.” Amid much criticism, the Chamber of Deputies approved Zan Bill in 2020. It is now pending in the Senate. As the final vote draws nearer, the polemic is intensifying.

The Zan Bill is extremely dangerous.

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Firstly, there is no “homophobic emergency” in Italy that could serve as a pretext for such legislation. Unfortunately, the facts show that Italy is the second most homosexual-friendly country in Europe, after Great Britain. Thus, current Italian Law already punishes any act of discrimination, even imposing aggravating consequences when the action is committed for “futile reasons,” as, for example, sexual orientation. In other words, there is no pretext for a Zan Bill since any discrimination is already covered by current legislation.

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As practicing Catholics, we are filled with compassion and pray for those who struggle against violent temptation to sin, be it toward homosexual sin or otherwise.

We are conscious of the enormous difference between these individuals who struggle with their weaknesses and strive to overcome them and others who transform their sin into a reason for pride, and try to impose their lifestyle on society as a whole, in flagrant opposition to traditional Christian morality and natural law. However, we pray for them too.

According to the expression attributed to Saint Augustine, we “hate the sin but love the sinner.” And to love the sinner, as the same Doctor of the Church explains, is to wish for him the best we can possibly desire for ourselves, namely, “that he may love God with a perfect affection.” (St. Augustine, Of the Morals of the Catholic Church, No. 49, www.newadvent.org/fathers/1401.htm)

More worrisome, however, is the bill’s lack of definition of what exactly would constitute “homo-trans-phobia.” Juridical doctrine requires that an unlawful act be clearly defined. To be prosecuted, the citizen must know precisely what constitutes a crime, a felony or a misdemeanor.

Nowhere in the Zan Bill is such a definition found. Nor does it define who would determine what constitutes “homo-trans-phobia.” One possibility is that the judges would assume this task on a case-to-case basis. Given that many judges in Italy belong to the Communist-inspired Magistatura Democratica union, we can easily presume its ideological orientation. Another possibility bodes even more danger: “homo-trans-phobia” would be defined by the “victim’s perception.” In other words, if a complainant sensed discrimination because he was a homosexual, his personal feeling would be sufficient proof of discrimination. This can lead to unimaginable abuse.

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The Zan Bill imposes severe penalties upon those who commit this undefined crime of “homo-trans-phobia”:

— up to 18 months in jail, or up to 6 years if the offender belongs to an organization that rejects homosexuality or transgenderism;

— a fine of up to 6,000 euros;

— a temporary suspension of the person’s national ID card, passport or driving license;

— curfew after 10 p.m.;

— loss of political rights for three years;

— the jail sentence can be commuted with “community service” at LGBTQ centers.

No wonder critics consider it “dictatorial” and “totalitarian.” While purporting to defend LGBT “rights,” the bill cracks down on dissent. Any resemblance to the Soviet Union is not a mere coincidence…

The debate over the Zan Bill has lately centered around the most important one: it would attack religious liberty by establishing a situation of religious persecution against Catholics.

The bill would impede the Catholic Church from teaching its moral Magisterium. Indeed, morality is based on making distinctions: some acts are good and must be practiced; some acts are bad and must be avoided. If we can no longer distinguish—i.e., discriminate—between good and evil, the possibility of moral order is dealt a deadly blow.

For example, under the Zan Bill, a priest could no longer read certain passages of Holy Scriptures. Nor could he read specific paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He could not recall what so many saints have written about sexual ethics. Nor could he preach Catholic morals. Indeed, all Catholic books containing any censure of homosexual conduct would have to be withdrawn from public libraries.

Thus, the Church would lose its freedom to preach the Word of God.

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Moreover, the Zan Bill would impose an LGBT-oriented curriculum in Catholic schools. The Church would not only be impeded to preach its moral doctrine in its schools but would be forced to accept LGBT teachers that would overtly contradict Her teaching.

This is religious persecution.

In an unprecedented move, the Vatican issued an informal memorandum, signed by Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for the Relations with States on June 17. The memorandum warns that the Zan Bill “would have a negative effect on the freedoms guaranteed to the Catholic Church and its faithful by the current Concordat.”

The Concordat is the international treaty that regulates the relations between the Vatican State and the Italian Republic. It guarantees the Church freedom of speech and education. The Zan Bill clearly violates these provisions. The memorandum continues: “There are expressions in the Holy Scripture and in the ecclesiastical tradition of the authentic magisterium of popes and bishops, which consider the sexual difference according to an anthropological perspective that the Catholic Church does not consider questionable because it derives from it Divine revelation.”

An atomic bomb would not have had a greater impact than this memorandum! Non-Italians do not realize just how important the Concordat is in Italian history. It was signed in 1929 to end the state of war that existed since 1870 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican. The Concordat is the axis of Italian public life.

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The memorandum was the first time the Vatican has used such a strong-handed approach vis-à-vis the Italian Republic. Thus, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi was forced to intervene in Parliament. The leading daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, dedicated no less than six full pages to the episode. Many conservatives applauded the move. Finally, Pope Francis had drawn the line! The Church was finally exercising its authority! Pope Francis was resurrecting as a Pius IX!

Alas… the joy lasted just two days. It became known that the Vatican had issued the memorandum to prevent the Bishops’ Conference from intervening in the debate. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, President of the Italian Bishops Conference and a close aide to Pope Francis, revealed that local bishops had increasingly solicited him to issue a collective statement condemning the Zan Bill. This condemnation would have had an overwhelming effect on Italian priests and the faithful, tipping the scale against the left. By issuing a diplomatic memorandum, the Vatican prevented the Italian bishops from taking any further steps.

Throwing more water on the fire, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, promptly declared: “There is no intention of blocking the Zan Bill. We are against any discrimination based on sexual orientation.” According to His Eminence, the memorandum was merely intended to “air some preoccupations and promote dialogue. The Italian State is secular, and we have no intentions of interfering.” With this, the atomic bomb was reduced to a flicker…

Two days later, Pope Francis sent a personal letter to Fr. James Martin, the controversial pro-LGBT American Jesuit, thanking him for his pastoral work with the LGBT people and, indirectly, supporting his promotion of the LGBT agenda.

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Thus the flicker was further reduced to a mere ember…

With the Vatican’s unwillingness to defend Catholic moral principles, the approval of the Zan Bill in the Senate is practically guaranteed.

Julio Loredo
Nasz Dziennik

Updated July 20, 2021.

Photo Credit:  © TTstudio – stock.adobe.com

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