After initially criticizing the position taken by the Secretary of State against an Italian “anti-homophobia” bill, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life backed down, leaving more than one observer puzzled.
The controversial president of the Academy founded by Pope John Paul II in 1994, has once again drawn the spotlight on him: invited, on June 23, 2021, as part of an event making the promotion of the most progressive ideologies, the prelate clearly distinguished himself from his colleagues in the secretariat of state on the subject of the Zan bill.
DDL Zan - named after MP Alessandro Zan, an LGBT activist - focuses on “measures to prevent and address discrimination and violence based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.” It was presented for discussion in the Italian Senate.
Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, member of the Secretariate of State, Secretary for Relations with States, the Vatican Minister of Foreign Affairs, sent a “note verbale” to the Italian Embassy to the Holy See on June 17, in which it is specified that certain clauses of DDL Zan could prove to be contrary to the concordat signed between Italy and the Vatican.
“This note should not have been written,” stated Msgr. Vincenzo Paglia, for whom “the concordat has nothing to do with all this,” even as he recognizes that the DDL Zan is “badly put together.”
He added: “If you will allow me this bit of humor, the level of the Tiber has fallen on both banks,” alluding to what he sees as a distressing level of political exchanges between Italy and the Holy See.
No need to be a seasoned Vaticanist to deduce that, at the Terza Loggia - the “third floor” of the apostolic palace which refers to the location of the secretariat of state - they must have choked while watching the interview with the president of the Academy for Life.
After a probable forceful clarification, the echo of which was stifled by the thick leonine walls, the next day, June 24, Msgr. Paglia gave a new interview to the daily Il Giornale: which was, indeed, an act of back-pedaling in the greatest art of the discipline.
From that point, the prelate says he is convinced “that between the banks of the Tiber, there is creativity to find avenues for dialogue and resolution of differences, and the media should stay out of all this.”
Of course, the journalists have “extrapolated” Msgr. Paglia's words, turning them “into a fake interview that (I) never gave.” The Note Verbale is no longer a “mistake”: the only mistake was perhaps to make it public, “when it should have been kept secret.”
On June 30, a week later, Archbishop Paglia intervened again, in Famiglia Cristiana, in order to denounce “the too great number of discriminatory attitudes based on sex.”
And he calls for “greater collaboration between the Catholic Church and public institutions, associations, training facilities, and families about issues such as homophobia and the Church’s pastoral approach towards people with a homosexual orientation.”
A new comment, which will not be taken back this time, because it only repeats in another form, the words of Cardinal Pietro Parolin when he had to explain this “Note verbale”: “We are against any attitude or act of intolerance or hatred towards people because of their sexual orientation, or their ethnicity or beliefs.”