Palazzo Borromeo, an elegant Renaissance palace located on Via Flaminia, a few kilometers from the political heart of Rome, is one of the city’s strangest places of power. Since the Lateran Agreements (1929), which normalized relations between the Holy See and the Italian State, it has housed the Italian embassy at the Vatican. However, if the very atypical relations between these two States are intense and complex, they are also characterized by a great discretion.
This is why the dissemination in the press of the “note verbale” that Cardinal Paul Gallagher, secretary for relations with the States, deposited there on June 17 had the effect of an explosion. Of course, the signature of the head of Vatican diplomacy does not appear on this two-page text, but it still bears the seal of the Holy See. In addition, the warnings it contains about the law against homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and discrimination against the disabled (also called “Zan law”, from the name of the rapporteur of the text), currently in discussion in Parliament, are drafted in a perfectly courteous manner, but the position expressed by the Vatican is nonetheless very firm.
In this text, Vatican diplomacy enjoins the drafters of the “Zan law” to “Find another modulation”, in order to “Continue to guarantee respect for the Lateran agreements”. In short: by potentially infringing freedom of expression, the law under discussion would jeopardize one of the founding principles of the concordat which governs the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Italian State.
“The Vatican made a mistake”
Not content with expressing itself on the legal level, the document also displays a strong theological position on the notion of “Sexual difference”, considered to be derivative “Of divine revelation”, and which therefore cannot be called into question. This point of view – far from being unanimous within the Church – carries with it the contesting of the notions of gender and sexual identity, themselves central in the bill under discussion. The Vatican therefore fears that the adoption of the “Zan law” as it stands will prevent the free expression of this position.
From the rostrum of the Senate, the President of the Italian Council, Mario Draghi, firmly recalled, Wednesday, June 23, that Italy “Is a secular and non-denominational state”, highlighting the existence of numerous constitutional checks, which should be of a nature to calm the concerns expressed by the Vatican.
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