Head of Pontifical Academy for Life: Vatican ‘shouldn’t have’ protested Italy’s ‘homophobia’ bill
VATICAN CITY, June 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The President of the Pontifical Academy for Life said in an interview that the Vatican “shouldn’t have written” a note asking Italy to block a bill that would make “homophobic” discrimination a crime punishable by jail time.
The National Catholic Register’s Rome correspondent, Edward Pentin, tweeted on Thursday the transcript of an interview with Archbishop Paglia, together with notes on Paglia’s responses.
.@PagliaAbp: Holy See “shouldn’t have written” note asking for Italy’s transphobia bill to be blocked. Says it’s complex, unrelated to Lateran Pact. Seems to support catechism change on homosexuality, to recognise other forms of cohabitation, but marriage only between man, woman pic.twitter.com/vgMxs4ZQYW— Edward Pentin (@EdwardPentin) June 24, 2021
After expressing his regret that a Vatican official protested the “transphobia” bill, Paglia added, “However, it remains a bad bill, poorly written.”
The Zan bill, named after Alessandro Zan, the homosexual legislator who introduced it, aims “to prevent and combat discrimination and violence for reasons based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.” It also would, reportedly, establish a “day against “homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”
The bill was passed by the lower House in November, and is now under consideration by the Italian Senate.
In what local media described as an “unprecedented” move, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States Paul Richard Gallagher delivered a note to the Italian Embassy to the Holy See on June 17, asserting that the Zan bill would have “the effect of negatively affecting the freedoms guaranteed to the Catholic Church and its faithful by the current concordat regime.”
Here, Gallagher invoked an agreement between the Holy See and Italy, which was signed in 1984 as a Revision of the Lateran Concordat, and in particular, its statement that “[t]he Italian Republic recognizes the full freedom of the Catholic Church to carry out its pastoral, educational and charitable mission, of evangelization and sanctification.”
In his interview, Paglia disputed the idea that the Lateran Concordat has any bearing on the lawfulness of the bill, saying, “The Zan bill has nothing to do with the agreement.”
Gallagher also made mention of “ecclesiastical traditions” of the “authentic magisterium” “which consider sexual difference,” in an apparent reference to the bill’s stated protection against “discrimination” based on “gender identity.”
Reuters reported that according to a Vatican source, “The Vatican fears that the law as written could lead to criminalisation of the Church in Italy for refusing to conduct gay marriages, for opposing adoption by homosexual couples through Catholic institutions, or for refusing to teach gender theory in Catholic schools.”
Gallagher is not alone among Catholic clergy in expressing concerns about the bill. The Catholic Episcopal Conference of Italy (CEI) released a statement last year warning that the proposed “anti-homophobia” legislation could punish those “who believe the family requires a dad and a mom.”
“Rather than punishing discrimination — it would end up striking the expression of a legitimate opinion, as learned by the experience of the legal systems of other nations in which similar internal regulations have already been introduced,” the statement said.
Zan countered the bill’s opponents in a tweet last week, stating that the bill “does not in any way limit freedom of expression, as well as religious freedom. And it respects the autonomy of all schools.”
Pentin’s remark on Twitter that Paglia “seems to support catechism change on homosexuality” appears to refer to the following response by Paglia in answer to the question of whether he agrees with the Catholic catechism’s teaching that “homosexuality is a symptom of sexual disorder:”
“... long live Pope Francis because his message goes beyond the thinking of many Italians,” said Paglia. “It is an important process and I would not stop at catechism. A few months ago the catechism was changed on the death penalty. The Church is a living body and it goes on.”
Paglia, who was appointed President of the Pontifical Academy for Life and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family in 2016, has earned some notoriety for his proclivity for actions and statements scandalizing the faithful.
In late 2019, Paglia claimed that anyone who says Judas Iscariot is in hell is a heretic, and that priests may “accompany” assisted suicides.
He is also known for commissioning a homoerotic mural to be painted in his Cathedral, which depicts Jesus carrying nets to heaven filled with naked and semi-nude homosexuals, transsexuals, prostitutes, and drug dealers, jumbled together in erotic interactions. Paglia oversaw every detail of the work, according to its painter, Ricardo Cinalli. The painting was described by critics as “blasphemous” and “demonic.”
Paglia was largely responsible for what veteran Catholic journalist Phil Lawler described as the “ideological purge” of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. Under his direction, all professors of the Institute were temporarily suspended from teaching there, more than just a few were dismissed, and academic offerings such as the “Master and Diploma in the Pastoral Care of the Family” were eliminated.