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Italian bishop: ‘I do not identify with those who recite the Rosary’ outside abortion facilities

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ROME, May 14, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Italian bishop has angered pro-life advocates at home and abroad after he told an interviewer May 12 that he has little time for the kind of pro-lifer who prays the Rosary outside abortion facilities.

“I do not identify with the expressionless faces of those who recite the Rosary outside the clinics who practice interruption of pregnancy,  [‘l’interruzione della gravidanza’] but with those young people who are opposed to this practice and strive for the quality of life of the people, for their right to health, to work,” said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, secretary-general of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI).

John Smeaton, head of the UK-based Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), has addressed a letter to Galantino asking him to retract the comments and requesting a meeting to discuss the matter.

“I really don’t think you would be saying, if national laws had allowed the killing of Catholic priests or Jews over the past few decades: ‘In the past we have concentrated too much on the killing of Catholic priests or Jews...’. Indeed, you would probably be saying, ‘We can never do enough to denounce this grotesque evil,’” Smeaton wrote.

But Galantino did not limit himself to a critique of the pro-life movement. Asked, “What is your wish for the Italian Church,” Galantino responded, “That we can talk without taboo about any subject of married priests, of giving the Eucharist to divorced persons, homosexuality, according to the Gospel and giving reasons for their positions.”

Responding to the question of whether the politically influential CEI will continue to press Italy’s Parliament to address the “non-negotiable values” of life, family and education, Galantino said, “We think about the sacredness of life. In the past we have not concentrated exclusively on abortion and euthanasia. It cannot be so; in the middle [of these two] there is the existence [of the person] that continuously develops.”

Galantino added that with the pontificate of Pope Francis, “the Italian Church has an extraordinary opportunity to reposition itself with respect to spiritual, moral and cultural expectations.” 

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In March, Pope Francis chose Galantino personally for the second-highest position at the Italian bishops’ conference, which the pope is hoping to reform. In a letter to the faithful of Galantino’s diocese in Calabria, Francis apologized for taking him to Rome. “I need Monsignor Galantino to come to Rome at least for a while. … I ask you, please, understand me and forgive me,” Francis wrote.

The comments have also aroused opposition in Italy where a woman has written that it was the prayers of those outside an abortion facility that helped her to realize the evil of abortion.

Gianfranco Amato, president of Jurists for Life, said that the letter was sent to him by an unnamed “woman of Romanian nationality” who lives in northern Italy. She asked that her open letter be published on the website of La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana in response to Bishop Galantino’s comments. The woman said she had already committed three abortions, and prayed the Rosary to help others avoid the “gloomy pain” that follows abortion.

“Your Excellency, I do not have the glossy face of an actress, I have a normal face equal to that of many other women, but it would be ungenerous to call it ‘expressionless’,” she wrote, adding that she understands that “as a man” the archbishop might not be capable of understanding what it means to lose a child.

“Three times I have suppressed the lives of the children I was carrying. Only the newfound faith through grace has made me realize the atrocity of what I did, and led me to a commitment to the defense of life,” she said.

“So, I found myself among those people who pray at those clinics before the acts that the Church rightly calls ‘abominable crimes’ are committed. If I decided to recite the Rosary in those places, it was only to beg a pardon for those poor women.”

“In the Church, Your Excellency, for what I did I did not feel judged. And that's why I do not judge anyone. I only pray for those women who, sometimes ignorant, commit the same mistakes, falling, then, into the abyss of eternal remorse.” 

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