Italy: The Church speaks prior to the legislative elections

Source: FSSPX News


On March 20, 2006, at the opening of the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) in Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, President of the CEI and Vicar General of Rome, spoke about the teaching of the Koran in Italian schools.

The prelate clarified that Cardinal Raffaele Renato Martino, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke “in a private capacity”, last March 7, when he described the proposition to teach the Koran as “a source of respect” toward Islam and a way to defend the teaching of the Catechism. For, Ruini explained, “the competency of the Catholic Church concerning relations with the Italian State has to do with the question of teaching the Catechism and not with the teaching of other religions”.

Cardinal Ruini then wished to make the “necessary precisions”. If “the right to religious liberty applies to all, in this view, the principle of teaching Islam in school does not seem to be out of the question”, there are, however, “certain fundamental conditions” to this right “applicable to all instruction in Italian schools”. There must not be “opposition between their content and the Constitution regarding civil rights, like religious liberty but also equality between men and women in marriage”. “There is not currently, added the cardinal, a representative body within Islam which has the authority to make an agreement on this question with the Italian State”. For the latter would have to be “assured that the teaching of the Islamic religion did not in fact turn into a dangerous social indoctrination”.

Finally, the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference recalled that article 9 of the Concordat of 1984 based the teaching of the Catholic religion in the school on the fact that “the principles of Catholicism were part of the historic patrimony of the Italian people”. Thus the weekly Catechism class could not be replaced by a study of the history of religions on the pretext “of a greater pluralism because of the religions present within the State due to immigration”. Cardinal Ruini mentioned that 91% of school children “freely” take the Catechism course in school.

As the legislative elections of this coming April 9th and 10th approach, the cardinal recalled the refusal by the Italian Church of the proposed PACS [translator’s note: civil unions, including those of the same sex, as are already in place in France] pushed by the left coalition. “Some worrisome signs have come from the different regional councils where propositions on de facto unions have been presented and sometimes even approved”. He also warned against the breaching of annual immigration quotas that would jeopardize a “unified acceptance and a real integration, because of the deplorable situation of the job market”.

Since turning 75 on February 19, Cardinal Ruini has asked to be relieved of his duties. Benedict XVI decided to retain him as President of the Italian Episcopal Conference until the 4th National Ecclesial Congress of Verona, scheduled for the 16th to the 20th of October 2006.