The Vatican has asked the Italian government through diplomatic channels for “a different modulation of the bill on homotransphobia”; the news, anticipated by Corriere della Sera, was then authoritatively confirmed by the Roman observer. According to the newspaper of the Holy See, “some current contents of the legislative proposal of the bill against homotransphobia, under examination by the Senate, ‘reduce the freedom guaranteed to the Catholic Church’ in terms of organization, public worship, exercise of the magisterium and the episcopal ministry, or those freedoms sanctioned by article 2, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the agreement revising the agreement of 1984 “.
This would therefore be “the substance of the verbal note (a diplomatic communication, ed) of the secretariat of state delivered last June 17 to the Italian ambassador to the Holy See”, the Osservatore continued. “The document notes how the Zan bill risks interfering, among other things, with the right of Catholics and their associations and organizations to ‘full freedom of assembly and manifestation of thought with speech, writing and any other means of dissemination ‘, as provided for in paragraph 3. With the note verbale, a different modulation of the bill is hoped for ”. In short, the Zan bill would violate nothing less than the concordat between Italy and the Holy See. The paragraphs of article 2 of the agreement called into question both concern the freedom of the Church and of Catholics to freely carry out their mission and to exercise the freedom of organization, thought and speech. The promoter of the rule, the deputy of the pd Alessandro Zan, however, replied via Twitter to the criticisms coming from the Vatican: “All concerns have always been listened to with great attention in the chamber and, as confirmed by the Senate Studies Service, the text does not in any way limit freedom of expression, as well as religious freedom. And it respects the autonomy of all schools ”. In fact, one of the concerns expressed by the Vatican secretariat of state concerns the Catholic schools that would be called to celebrate the day against homotransphobia.
Bewildered by the Vatican intervention is the biblical scholar and theologian Marinella Perroni, founder of the coordination of the Italian theologians, who, conversing with Internazionale, observes: “What’s the point? It is not a law that obliges you to be homosexual, it is a law that tells you that if you attack a homosexual you are punishable. Then the discussion begins on what it means to ‘attack’. There are those who cling to the fact that it would be enough to express a contrary opinion on homosexuality to be prosecuted. While ‘assaulting’, in the mind of the legislator, evidently means, for example, heavily insulting a homosexual, or using violence. We can also think about what is the best method of applying the rule but we cannot forget that we have been moving forward since 1996. In fact, the first draft law dates back to that year, which of course still dealt only with homophobia, not transphobia ”. “All subsequent attempts have been dug up regularly and have been ditched by Catholics,” continues the scholar. “So, that even the Italian Bishops’ Conference now comes out saying that the law should be written better is at least strange: they had twenty-five years to do it better, what were they waiting for?”. “After that – he adds – I believe that the sexual difference has not yet been explored, that we are stammering a whole series of things between sex and gender and we don’t understand each other much. The law, however, is an instrument that should go to modify an underlying roughness that exists and is frightening, counteracting aggression and discrimination against homosexuals ”.
As for the reference to the violation of concordat evoked by the Vatican note, according to Marinella Perroni “the concordats were important at a time when states and national governments made history. Furthermore, many concordats were signed with totalitarian governments that were the majority in a given period, so careful historical analysis is required. But today history has become global, it is the history of peoples that intertwine with each other, resorting to the concordat is an anachronism. On the other hand, the concordat concerns the relations between the Italian state and a single church, the Protestants could say: we do not want changes to the Zan bill. Therefore, one wonders how can the church interfere in the laws of the Italian state in this way? I must say it is mortifying ”.
Finally, as for Catholic schools and the hypothetical day of commitment against homotransphobia, the theologian recalls how the calendar is already full of days dedicated to the most varied themes: “The important thing is that they do not force me to do things that I want to do. It is not that all Catholic schools celebrate every anniversary of the UN, UNICEF and so on. The ‘themed’ days are just a way to give relevance to an issue “.
Raise the fight
Differently, Gianfranco Brunelli, director of the Catholic newspaper Il Regno, sees it, who in a note commenting on the incident interpreted the leak of news relating to the Vatican diplomatic pressure as an attempt to blow up the state-church conflict. “That the Vatican has sent the Italian government a note on the Zan bill is not an exceptional case, nor is it the first time,” says Brunelli. “If anything, it is surprising that he has done so only now. And it is to be regretted that the thing emerged (probably on the Italian side) in order to trigger the clash and not to modify the bill, where the bishops had asked for some changes and not the rewriting of the bill. Or someone in the Democratic Party thinks of finding their own identity by making this matter an ideological battle, instead of defusing it by achieving a balanced objective; or someone else has imagined using the game of a clash with the church to further embarrass the Democratic Party. The fight will go up. Up to proposing the abolition of the concordat “.
However, it should be remembered that time is running out and further amendments to the bill would result in the definitive slippage of the rule to who knows when; and indeed this seems to be the goal of many last-minute requests for changes, also because the Zan bill’s chances of succeeding were not many even before the last Vatican intervention. Now, in case the measure does not actually arrive in port, the problem seems to have become who will win the victory of having blown the project.
“Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the church was two hundred years behind. But Martini had been generous. The church is far behind ”. To express himself in these terms was Father Alberto Maggi, who never refused to give communion to homosexuals, commenting on the Vatican intervention on the Zan bill in an interview with Espresso. “Society is not static but it changes. The risk is when faced with new situations, like this one, we are afraid or unable and therefore we give old answers ”.
In this context, Francis’ pontificate has sparked hopes and aroused disappointments. A magisterium, his, open and contradictory that indicates a path but remains uncertain as to how to proceed. After all, the problems are not lacking even within the church. Lastly, the US bishops spoke out by a large majority to refuse the Eucharist to Catholic politicians in favor of the right of choice for women in the event of abortion: the declared intent is to prevent President Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, from accessing the sacrament. However, according to Marinella Perroni, “that significant part of the American bishops’ conference that has expressed itself in this way actually wants domination over the Catholic Church as Trump wanted domination over the world. So the real goal is not Biden, but getting Francesco out of the way, who is also in great difficulty ”.