In a news conference on Tuesday, Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, the prefect for the Vatican office of Laity, Family, and Life, said that if the Holy See is concerned, “it’s a concern for each one of us,” he said. “As well as a concern that we naturally share.”
In the letter, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State made reference to an article of the Lateran Treaty that clearly guaranteed religious liberty for the church in its practise and teaching of its beliefs, according to a Vatican spokesperson. This, he said, was a violation of those rights if passed as-is.
The official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the letter’s contents, said that while the Vatican frequently sent such letters after laws were passed, it decided in this instance to intervene early, during the legislative process, to try to stop it. That’s perfectly legal, according to the official, because it’s a Vatican treaty.
It would be illegal for the Vatican to deny priests to women, limit marriage to one man and one woman, or refuse to teach gender theory in Catholic schools, according to their interpretation of the bill. After being questioned about the Vatican’s lack of involvement with similar legislation in other countries, the official responded that the Vatican believed the proposed legislation went further than other places.
“The letter” sent to the Italian government, according to an official, asserted that the Catholic Church has long held that recognising sex differences is not discrimination, but rather an integral part of its faith. Furthermore, he stated that the treaty ensured that the church could practise and teach this difference in Italy.
For the first time ever, Italy’s lower house of parliament passed a bill that would make anti-LGBT bias a crime punishable by up to four years in prison as well as other penalties already in place, including fines and expulsion from society. Anti-LGBT hate crimes, including those committed in schools, will be the focus of a national day of awareness, which will help raise public awareness of the issue.
Most Western European democracies have similar laws in place, but Catholic associations, right-wing politicians, and even some feminist groups have opposed their passage in Italy’s Senate.