ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - Faithful Italian Catholics and evangelical Christians are rejoicing after the Zan bill against transhomophobia, which threatened to criminalize the Church's teaching on sexuality, was shot down on the floor of Italy's senate Wednesday afternoon.
The motion to halt the bill, named for the Democratic Party lawmaker and gay rights activist Alessandro Zan, was blocked by a secret ballot in Italy's Upper House with 154 senators voting in favor of canceling the draft legislation, 131 against and two abstentions.
Matteo Salvini's Lega (League) and Giorgia Meloni's Fratelli D'Italia (Brothers of Italy) parties moved the motion to halt the legislation. Pope Francis has expressed disapproval of both parties despite their conservative stance on the family.
"The secret vote meant that legislators did not have to publicly declare their position. This allowed several of them to defy their party's line and vote according to their consciences," a leading Italian judge told Church Militant.
Italy's center-right parties demanded a secret ballot as left-wing parties vigorously opposed the motion calling for an open vote.
"This is what we can achieve when the Church takes a lead and the Magisterium speaks with the clarity of a bugle blast," the faithful Catholic judge emphasized.
Italian commentators pointed out Catholic parliamentarians from the Democratic Party may have defected and "betrayed" the Zan bill, deciding instead to "listen to the Vatican."
The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) wrote to Pro Vita & Famiglia Onlus earlier after the pro-life Italian Catholic body requested doctrinal clarification on how Catholic politicians need to respond to the bill.
"In the face of such bills, the behavior of the faithful and Catholic politicians must conform to the Magisterium of the Church, which expresses 'clear reproach' on gender ideology through numerous interventions by Pope Francis," the CDF stated.
The CDF also cited Pope John Paul II's encyclical Evangelium Vitae, noting "the well-formed Christian conscience does not allow anyone to favor with one's vote the implementation of a political program or of a single law" subverting faith and morals.
"It would be a mistake to confuse the just autonomy that Catholics in politics must assume with the vindication of a principle that is independent of the moral and social teaching of the Church," the CDF statement added.
"The rejection of the Zan bill is a historic victory for the family, the freedom of conscience and the educational freedom of Italian families," commented Jacopo Coghe, vice president of Pro Vita & Famiglia Onlus. "We have foiled the brainwashing of millions of children in Italian schools by LGBT activists."
Alessandro Zan lashed out on Twitter, accusing legislators of betraying a "political pact" that "wanted the country to take a step towards civilization."
The Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) news service first responded ambiguously, labeling the senate debate a "dialogue of the deaf."
Later in the day, CEI president Cdl. Gualtiero Bassetti said in a statement that "the outcome of the vote in the Senate on the Zan bill confirms what has been emphasized several times: the need for an open and non-prejudicial dialogue, in which the voice of Italian Catholics can also contribute to building a more just and supportive society."
Italian bishops had challenged the proposed legislation against "homotransphobia" in June 2020, warning it could criminalize the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality and even censor preaching against sexual pathologies like pedophilia, sadism or masochism.
In June 2021, Vatican foreign minister Bp. Paul Gallagher warned the Italian government that its proposed Zan bill against so-called homotransphobia would violate the Concordat of 1985 between Italy and the Vatican City State, Church Militant reported.
"Some of the current contents of the legislative proposal reduce the freedom guaranteed to the Catholic Church by article 2, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the revised Concordat," Gallagher noted.
But days later, in a dramatic flip-flop, Vatican Secretary of State Cdl. Pietro Parolin, who championed compromise with China through the Holy See's secret deal, said the Vatican is not seeking to block the controversial Zan bill, Church Militant reported.
Parolin maintained the Vatican's intervention "in no way asked to block the [Zan] law" since the Holy See was "against any attitude or gesture of intolerance or hatred towards people" because of sexual orientation, ethnicity or beliefs.
"It was not an interference. The Italian state is secular, it is not a confessional state, as Prime Minister [Mario Draghi] reiterated. I fully agree with Draghi on the secular nature of the state and on the sovereignty of the Italian Parliament," Parolin added.
In June 2020, CEI president Cdl. Gualtiero Bassetti observed: "[I]ntroducing further incriminating norms [through the Zan bill] would risk a drift towards liberticide" and "subject to criminal proceedings those who believe that the family requires a dad and a mother."
"This is a very important result that stops the ideological drift to which the Left wanted to lead us in Italy," Lega Party deputy leader Vito Comencini told Church Militant.
The faithful Catholic parliamentarian elaborated:
We managed to stop a serious attack on the family and natural law. It was a long and hard battle both in the House and in the Senate and if we managed to win it, it is also thanks to the support of associations, civil society and Providence that certainly gave us their support.
This success must give us the impetus to support even more the essential values of our Classical Christian Civilization: life and the natural family. And so, we hope it will also happen throughout Europe — a continent that deserves to return to being a beacon of civilization, as opposed to the globalist and ultra-liberal policies that have instead led it in recent years to a drift of morals and values.
The bill was also opposed by evangelicals — a small but growing and vocal minority — in Italian politics.
Naiche Di Salvo, head of Evangelical Christian Action (ACE), told Church Militant:
We receive with great joy the death of the Zan bill. In July, all Christian denominations called a day of prayer so that the unconstitutional Zan law would not be approved in the senate.
Today we can say that God has heard our prayers. As a result, the family, protected by article 29 of the fundamental charter of our country, remains only the one founded on marriage between a man and a woman.
While the CEI news media Avvenire published pro-Zan letters from liberal Catholics, thousands demonstrated against the bill in more than 75 Italian cities and towns, including Bergamo, Bologna, Cremona, Milan, Turin, Verona, Siena, Ravenna, Pisa, Naples and Genoa.
A July poll suggested the law had popular backing, with 62% of Italians in favor of the reform.