TRIESTE, January 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Earlier this month about two hundred homosexualist activists, including a number of local politicians, demonstrated in front of the residence and offices of the Catholic bishop of Trieste. The bishop later told an interviewer that he spent the afternoon, effectively barricaded in his own house, reading and catching up on correspondence.

Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi told the diocesan newspaper Vita Nuova (New Life) he was reading a book by American sociologist, Rodney Stark, titled The Triumph of Christianity, “which analyzes, among other things, the many persecutions suffered by Christians in two thousand years of history”. The book, he said, “demonstrates...that in the end, the persecutors pass and Christians continue, because the persecutions purify them and make them stronger. It’s a book that I recommend.”

His offence was having publicly defended the Catholic Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage in the diocesan newspaper. He said the purpose of the demonstration, a display of political power, was to define any opposition to the political agenda as “homophobia” and a criminal offence. 

Ultimately the goal of the movement, he told a local newspaper, is to “give legal force and criminal significance to ‘homophobia,’ that those who say publicly - as the Catholic Church has always said - that the only real family that founded on marriage between a man and a woman are declared ‘homophobic, intolerant, racist’ and, therefore, subject to criminal prosecution. 

“If you will travel this road,” he added, “anyone who belongs to the Catholic Church and professes its doctrine…will become liable to criminal punishment, even jail.”

The activists outside his door January 12th accused Crepaldi of reviving the “classic racist campaign against gay, lesbian and transgender people” and announced they intend to “prosecute” anyone who opposed their agenda, including churchmen.

Local news reported that two members of the Trieste city council were part of the crowd. Councilors Peter Faraguna and Paul Menis signed a petition “to fight discrimination” against homosexuals and the “promotion of non-discriminatory policies”. 

David Zotti, an organizer of the protest and president of the Rainbow Club, indicated that the bishop should not be allowed to speak on Catholic teaching outside the confines of his church.

“The bishop never misses an opportunity to trample the dignity of people and same-sex families, denigrating their lives and making it clear that there can be no legal recognition,” Zotti said.

The demonstration, he added, was also in response to the homily of Pope Benedict XVI on December 21st in which he identified “gender theory” and the global homosexualist movement as a “threat to the foundations” of western society. It was supported by provincial councilors - Štefan Čok, Gianluca Balbi, Nadja Debenjak, Sandy Klun, Matthew Puppi, Sabrina Morena, Marcello Bergamini, Elena Legiša and Majda Canziani and an extreme-left environmentalist political party Sinistra Ecologia e Libertà. 

Bishop Crepaldi responded that the accusations made against him are “false and serious,” particularly since he has dedicated his life “to fighting racism and has contributed a great pool of international jurists to rewrite the document of the Holy See against racism”.

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The genesis of the demonstration was a public campaign launched by Italy’s leading homosexualist group Arcigay the Christmas season against “homophobia” that involved photos on all city buses of same-sex couples in “intimate family attitudes”. The purpose of the campaign was to demand “equality” in law for “all types of families”.

Crepaldi said that the demonstration had nothing to do with “homophobia” but was intended to promote “same-sex marriage”.

“The ultimate goal of these campaigns is to undermine what is a cornerstone of civilization, the concept of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, equating it to other forms of cohabitation,” Archbishop Crepaldi told Tempi.

He called the homosexualist ideology an “insidious program, disguised as progressive and libertarian, to put a muzzle on all, depriving us of freedom.”

“It is ironic that the Church has given the world the higher conception of the incomparable value of the human person and taught him the duty of respect, equality and fraternity, [and is now] described as ‘racist and discriminating’.”

He called the participation of local politicians particularly “disturbing” and said it “has resulted in a black page for democracy and for the honor of the city's institutions”.

“What credibility can a city government claim when two of its members go around with insouciance to demonstrate against the bishop and the Catholic Church? It is good to know that in this city, since the early centuries of Christianity, is protected by a martyr, San Giusto. The Catholic Church of Trieste has been humiliated and I have been treated as a ‘series C’ citizen.”

He called for a halt to the “ideological conformism and a return to discussion in a civilized and constructive dialogue with a sense of respect for others and to value all assets.”

Crepaldi is close to Pope Benedict and was granted the personal rank of archbishop, though Trieste is not an archdiocese. He is the founder and president of the International Observatory Cardinal Van Thuan, a think tank that provides “reasoned information” and “reflections, evaluations and in-depth studies” on the Church’s social doctrine. In a paper for the Observatory, Archbishop Crepaldi warned of a “colonization of human nature” by an ideology that is spreading from Europe around the world, “gender,” an expression of “a nihilistic culture that intends to overcome completely the concept of human nature.” 

Catholics, he said, are not asked to take refuge in a small enclave to “cultivate traditional values,” but to compete in the world with a vision of the nature of the human being. “There is a huge cultural work to be done to educate this sense of nature and of human nature. And I’m sorry to see that within the Church and among the Christian communities themselves the importance of this point is often overlooked.”

Crepaldi predicted that the “gender-theory” ideology is driving secular society in Europe towards open persecution against Christianity, “and that it will be tough.” 

“There will be the militants, those who seek compromise, those who cheat, will be faithful and there will also be a martyr.”