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The enormous pressure being exercised in favour of the recognition of forms of cohabitation and same sex matrimony has by now assumed the features of a tidal wave using each and every means to erase any opposition in its path. This pressure or lobbying also entails an issue to which few people dedicate sufficient thought. Rising when institutions pursue this line of action is the grave issue of conscientious objection in their regard. At the selfsame origin of the history of social and political commitment on the part of Catholics at the end of the 19th century was conscientious objection. No one would wish to return to that situation, but the thrusts taking us back in that direction are very strong indeed.
Manifold are the forms and modes of pressure for the radical turning point represented by same sex matrimony, and numerous are the subjects involved: civil society associations; the progressive mass media that systematically induce people to mix up homophobia, which has to do with persons, and opposition to family pluralism, which has to do with laws; powerful international agencies; the infiltration of ideologies into the agencies of international organizations; rich lobbies, etc. Everyone knows this. There is a battle underway and it has to be fought. This does not constitute a special problem in itself since the forces on the battle field are recognizable and the conflict is underway. The real problem arises when promoting same sex matrimony, same sex ideology and gender ideology, which is the former’s underlying premise, are public institutions camouflaging their propaganda behind the alleged defence of human rights and the fight against discrimination. Triggered in this case is something particularly dangerous that sunders the social pact and can lead Catholics back to opposition towards public institutions by way of principle. This would seriously be to the detriment of one and all.
Many Italian local administrations have joined RE.A.DY (National Network of public administrations against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity). The aims and purposes of this network are imbued with the underlying ambiguity typical of the gender culture. In other words, considered discriminatory are all positions referable to a natural dimension of the family, and all this is mixed up with the negation of individual rights to gays and lesbians: in brief, discrimination. Therefore, arguing that a same sex couple cannot avail itself of the recognition accorded to a married heterosexual couple is considered tantamount to an act of intolerance. This network’s activities are therefore not limited to spreading a civic sense of respect, but rather a precise culture of sexual indifference (the gender culture), and hence a destruction of the procreation-family-filiation plexus. This is quite literally a total upheaval, conveyed, however, as nothing more than education to tolerance. This activity on the part of local administrations is not limited to special events such as the world day against homophobia, but is well organized as an ongoing endeavour in conjunction with public schools, to which the municipal or provincial administrations ensure sponsorship as well as subsidies to pay the wages of educational aides ordinarily coming from gay and lesbian associations. Often launched as well are specific campaigns. Targeted in particular in this cultural formation endeavour are sex education courses in public schools. It must not be forgotten that included under the heading of public institution are to be, yes, local administrations, but also public schools to a certain degree.
As long as promoting the gender culture is an association of civil society the problem is one of competition within civil society and nothing more. But when public institutions assume the task of transmitting this ideology it means that a single mind frame is being promoted with the means and systems of propaganda. Institutions must neither make propaganda nor discriminate, not even when they would strive to fight against alleged discrimination.
Conscientious objection on the part of Catholics and all those truly interested in the truth is exercised and applied in various realms of human enterprise. When institutions behave in this way, however, conscientious objection runs the risk of having to be applied towards the institutions themselves. If we have to defend ourselves against institutions by applying conscientious objection, and at our own risk and danger, the pact among citizens then ceases to exist and institutions are no longer of “one and all”. Catholic students, Catholic families and Catholic citizens should ordinarily engage in conscientious objection with respect to the aforementioned activities on the part of local administrations and public schools.
This, however, would project us back in time and reopen wounds considered healed. After the storming of Rome in 1870, Catholics manifested a motivated refusal of the new Italian State. It was a matter of conscientious objection towards the public institutions of that time. Later on, down through the decades and at even very high prices, this divide was somehow bridged, and Catholics nowadays have a full sense of belonging to the nation of Italy and being faithful to the institutions of the Republic of Italy, even though ever present is the duty to be obedient to God in the first instance. If this drift on the part of public institutions towards these new and intolerant ideologies were to spread and become rooted under the guise of tolerance, emerging anew for Catholics would be the moral duty to set themselves apart from all that, divide moral responsibilities, and say that is happening “not in my name”. It would be a grave civil split Italy cannot afford.
Cardinal Van Thuân International Observatory
for the Social Doctrine of the Church