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By John-Henry Westen

  ROME, May 1, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Benedict XVI has given strong public backing to Genoese Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, who has been threatened with death after having strongly condemned proposals to permit homosexual civil unions.  The Vatican made it public that Pope Benedict personally telephoned Archbishop Bagnasco yesterday urging him not to give in to intimidation.

  Later in the day, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sent an official telegram to the Archbishop signed in the name of the Pope urging Archbishop Bagnasco to “continue in his work for the common good, defending and promoting those human and religious values without which it is impossible to build true, free and stable democracies”.  The pope, said Cardinal Bertone expressed “his profound and painful shock” at the “grave and despicable events which aim to disturb the serene coexistence of the civil and ecclesial community”.

  In the latest in a series of threats against the Archbishop, a letter was sent to Bagnasco Friday containing his photo with a swastika carved into it, and accompanied by a bullet.  Police bodyguards were assigned to protect Archbishop Bagnasco several weeks ago, after threatening graffiti appeared on his cathedral and other buildings across the city. “Death to Bagnaso” and “Shame on you, Bagnasco” were spray painted, along with insults against the Pope and Cardinal Camillo Ruini, previous head of the bishops’ conference.  Other disturbing attacks included pornographic images of the Virgin Mary portrayed as a bisexual that was left in pamphlets in the cathedral at the end of the Easter Vigil Mass.

  The threats against Archbishop Bagnasco began after he issued a strongly-worded condemnation of the proposal to give legal rights to unmarried couples, including homosexual couples, comparing such measures to also giving rights to other sexually radical behaviours such as incest and pedophilia.  “Why not say no to various forms of living together, to the creating of alternative forms of the family?,” asked the Archbishop. “Why not say no to the incest of a brother and a sister who live together and have children in Great Britain? Why not say no to the party of pederasts in Holland?”

  To counter the governmental proposal for civil union legislation, pro-family groups with the support and encouragement of the Italian Bishops Conference and the Vatican are sponsoring a “Family Day” on May 12, where it is hoped many thousands will demonstrate in favour of protection for the traditional family.

  Responding to the official Vatican telegram, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano wrote Cardinal Bertone saying, “I wish to assure you that Italy will not leave Archbishop Bagnasco alone to face the present threats.”

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