The letter, delivered by diplomatic mail, struck like a bomb. Just before a proposal for an anti-discrimination law was dealt with in the Italian Senate, a formal protest against the legal text came from the Vatican.
The text of the law prohibiting discrimination, hatred and inciting violence based on gender, sexual preference and gender identity would seriously undermine the freedoms of the Roman Catholic Church to fulfill its mission, according to the letter.
Officially, the Holy See may object if Italy does something that violates those chords. But that has never happened, although Italian bishops have tried behind the scenes for many years to influence Italian politics. With varying success.
Now, for the first time, the Holy See has made a formal letter. Behind the protest is the Church‘s fear that after the law passed the law, the teaching could be regarded as discriminatory. After all, according to the Church, homosexual relations are “intrinsically disordered” and gender identity is described by Pope Francis as an “ideology” and “ideological colonialism”.
In addition, if the law passes, all Italian schools should actively participate in the officially introduced National Day Against Gay and Transphobia. Catholic schools too, and there’s the big pain point.
Completely backfire elaboration?
Many Italian media react shocked at what they call a direct interference in domestic affairs. Right-wing parties, including the Lega supporting Prime Minister Draghi‘s government, applaud the Vatican’s initiative.
Draghi himself briefly addressed the issue at a parliamentary session. “Italy is a secular state,” he said. “The parliament can discuss freely and enact laws.”
The government does not want to interfere with the bill. That‘s a parliament matter. This seems to be counterproductive in the Vatican’s action. Thanks to the letter, the bill is suddenly in full attention. According to polls, more than half of Italians are in favour of approval.
So it looks like the Holy See has unintentionally pushed the bill towards final law.