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ROME (Juliana Freitag
) - On Friday, Sergio Matarella, president of the Italian Republic, signed
the gay civil unions bill, giving legal recognition to same-sex couples for the first time in Italy's history. The Cirinnà bill, named after it sponsor Sen. Monica Cirinnà, grants gay couples certain rights similar to married couples, short of allowing them to adopt children.
Even though it seemed quite unlikely, the opposition had counted on the hope that the president would veto
the Cirinnà bill owing to its unconstitutional flaws, and that it would return to the Chambers for further deliberation. Mario Adinolfi, distinguishable figure from Catholic committee Difendiamo i nostri figli ("Let's Defend Our Children") and now a candidate in Rome's mayoral elections through his own party
, People for the Family,
had made a heartfelt appeal
to the Catholic president:
We pledge with our president to act as wisely as King Baudouin of Belgium, who chose to abdicate his throne in 1990 because of his refusal to sign a law that would contradict his principles, the law approving abortion in his country. Mattarella is an eminent jurist who has also been a member of the Constitutional Court, and, above all, he's a Catholic. He cannot allow himself a superficial reading of this law.
President Sergio Mattarella is just another one among so many progressive Catholics in Italian politics who have supported
the gay unions bill even though Catholics themselves made clear where they stood. A close friend to several bishops and cardinals, his house frequently received the visits of Cdl. Giovanni Battista Montini (later Pope Paul VI) when he was a boy.
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Even though Mattarella is extremely well connected
with Church hierarchy, Catholic newspapers were not reluctant to expose their diffidence when he was elected president in February 2015. La Bussola Quotidiana,
even before the Parliament announced the name of whom they had elected, published an article
asking for a non-Catholic president "because we live in a time where 'Catholic' is not an indicator of anything, especially for Catholics."
In a piece
called "Mattarella in Presidency, to Finish off Catholics," the Italian paper Corrispondenza Romana analyzed Mattarella's political history as a typical left-wing "Democratic Catholic":
The goal of all trends of the Catholic Left was to operate its own extinction and lose any Catholic connotation in order to fully accept the complete secularism of politics, where everything is simple mediation. Mattarella belongs to this history and this culture, and it is quite significant that he emerges to the maximum levels when his history and his culture are considered dead, so diluted they are in today's general secularism.
Already predicting what would come, the article expressed displeasure with the fact that many immoral bills moving through the senate — the Cirinnà bill included — would be approved with the signature of a Catholic president.
The Chamber of Deputies had approved
the Cirinnà bill in early May by an overwhelming margin of 372–51, with 99 abstentions. The vote was harshly criticized for making use
of the "vote of trust," an instrument of Italian democracy in which the parliament agrees to vote for a law without discussing its details, accepting the text as originally presented, rubberstamping the measure. It's a motion commonly applied to save time or, more likely in this case, to circumvent obstructions from the opposition.
The "vote of trust" was approved in the afternoon (369–193), and by evening the Chamber had approved the Cirinnà bill. The bill had been discussed when voted by the senate
, and a few modifications (like the removal of the clause that granted adoption rights to homosexual couples) were made during negotiations with the opposition, but these amendments were only made to manoeuver center-right politicians, as the real concerns of the Italian people were never addressed.
Massimo Gandolfini, president of Let's Defend Our Children, stated
that Prime Minister Matteo Renzi "needs to be stopped before Italy becomes his monarchy. He's not a Prime Minister for Italians, he represents a small lobby, and his government is the most antidemocratic in the history of the Italian Republic. He writes laws with his allies during the night and have them voted in the morning."
On the Cirinnà bill and the "vote of trust," Gandolfini declared:
This is an anti-constitutional law that has never been submitted to real democratic opposition. ... Today [there was] a vote of trust in the Chamber and no discussions on such a delicate matter, something that alters the ontological status of the family in Italy — a real act of political arrogance and incivility against democracy. ... This law is a simulacrum of matrimony.
Immediately after the Chamber of Deputies vote, all the members of the Democratic Party went to celebrate in front of the iconic Trevi Fountain, illuminated
with rainbow colors in celebration of the gay agenda. The same fountain would be illuminated red in April to pay homage to the blood
of Christian martyrs shed around the world.
Prime Minister Renzi, when asked
about the reaction from the Catholic world, replied: "The negative response from the Church was largely expected. I am a Catholic, but I have sworn on the Constitution, not on the Gospel. If one should lose votes in the name of a fair battle, so be it."
He also revealed his government has no intention of giving up on a law that allows homosexual couples to adopt. "If I could have crafted a law approving adoption [for homosexuals] in this legislature, I would have done it. We'll try to get this done by 2018."
The political opposition is reacting to the vote. Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, called all mayors from his party to civil disobedience
, and on the following day
representatives of the main center-right parties summoned a press meeting to declare they are going to request a popular referendum to stop the law from taking effect — to which Sen. Cirinnà responded
, "We'll warmly welcome that. It'll only push us closer to same-sex marriage. Italy will turn its back on conservatism, bigotism, and the Middle Ages."
The senator exulted
over the president's decision Friday. "Mattarella's signing of the civil unions law means a historic turning point for civil rights in Italy." She observed that in order to proceed with the celebration of gay unions, state officials need to wait for a decree issued by the Council of Ministers "which I am sure they will provide very quickly," she predicted, "writing one of the most beautiful pages in the history of rights in Italy.
Juliana Freitag is ChurchMilitant.com's Italian correspondent.
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