As the Italian Senate prepares to discuss the Cirinnà bill at the end of the month — a bill aimed at legalizing homosexual "marriages" — Catholic politicians, journalists and the people are preparing to protest what seems to be its inevitable passage. "Difendiamo i nostri figli," or "We Stand for Our Children," the committee responsible for the organization of last year's Family Day — a rally that annually gathers around one million Italians in Rome to defend the traditional family — has quickly organized a rally for January 30, only a few days after the bill is expected to be voted into law.
The distinctive trait of "We Stand for Our Children" is that it's a movement coordinated entirely by the faithful, with no political affiliation, relying solely on donations, and all of whose representatives are Catholic volunteers.
The Cirinnà bill is considered a key issue for the ruling Democratic Party in Italy. Currently, gay civil unions enjoy the same legal benefits as cohabiting heterosexual couples. The bill, however, would expand gay couples' abilities to adopt children as well as opening the door to surrogacy.
Democratic backers of the law are doing all in their power to oppose the bill's critics. An argument constantly used to discredit Catholics who criticize the bill is to repeat that the Italian bishops don't support the group "We Stand for Our Children" — at least not officially. Don Paolo Gentili, director of the National Office for the Pastoral Care of the Family, gave an interview recently to a progressive Italian paper indicating disagreement with the group's methods: "[O]ur points of view could be expressed in other ways, not limiting ourselves only to rallies in squares."
And Bp. Nunzio Galantino, secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, gave an interview shortly after that indicating that although a bishop could take part in the Family Day rallies, he should not expect "to convince every bishop to support it as well."
In the same interview, Galantino also implied that the state should recognize unions other than sacramental marriage: "Society has in its interior the growing presence of different types of unions," he claimed.
"The state has the duty to answer to everyone, respecting the common good above all. We're all learning that when facing such a complex reality as this, the radical positions seem to prevail."
His statement differs not only from the public positions held by "We Stand for Our Children," it also differs from that of the Italian Episcopal Conference itself. In a 2007 document, the bishops clearly condemned the possibility of other unions as an alternative to that of traditional marriage.
Although Galantino criticized the law for its lack of concern for those most affected — the children — the fact that the secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference would publicly endorse the possibility of legal protection for alternative unions, contradicting the official position of the Bishops' Conference itself, signals fractured opinions and lack of agreement within the highest ranks of the Church itself on this issue.