ITALY is currently debating a bill – approved by the Chamber of Deputies last November – that would tackle, among other things, the issue of homophobia.
But the Vatican, in voicing its opposition to the new legislation, is claiming that some parts of the text contravene a Concordat in force between Italy and the Holy See, and will “reduce the freedom of the Catholic Church.”
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, above, reacted this week by effectively telling the RCC to butt out and mind its own bloody business.
In an address to senators on Wednesday, Draghi stressed that Italy:
Is a secular state, not a confessional state so Parliament is certainly free to debate and legislate. Our legal system contains all the guarantees to ensure that laws always respect constitutional principles and international commitments, including the Concordat with the Church.
Secularism is not the indifference of the State to the religious phenomenon, secularism is the protection of pluralism and cultural diversity.
The legislation will introduce:
Measures to prevent and combat discrimination and violence on the grounds of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
The Vatican note stated that some parts of the text contravene the Concordat because they “reduce the freedom of the Catholic Church” in terms of organisation and exercise of worship, as well as “the full freedom” of expression and thought granted to faithful and to Catholic associations.
The bill, introduced by Alessandro Zan, above, a lawmaker from the centre-left Democratic Party, does not exempt Italian Catholic schools from an obligation to participate in activities for a national day against homophobia and transphobia, which will in the future be held on May 17.
Zan welcomed Draghi’s “excellent” words on Twitter, writing:
Now it is up to the Senate to approve a law that puts Italy in the Europe of rights, distancing itself from the discriminatory and shameful model of [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban, without wasting any more time.
Italy and the Holy See normalised their relations with the Lateran Agreement in 1929, after sixty years of crisis. They include a Concordat that was revised in 1984 to put an end to the special status of the Catholic religion, which is no longer the state religion in Italy.
According to the BBC Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the bill was:
An unprecedented act in the history of relations between Italy and the Vatican.
The Church is particularly furious over the fact that Catholic schools will not be exempted from the proposed national day against homophobia and transphobia.
It has also expressed concern that Catholics could face legal action for expressing their opinions on LGBT issues.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right Northern League, said his party was aligned with the Church’s stance.
Zan has rebuffed accusations that his bill will lead to censorship.
The text [of the law] does not restrict in any way freedom of expression or religious freedom. And it respects the autonomy of all schools.