The formal request to the Italian government through the Secretary for Relations with States, Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher. The act delivered on June 17. It had never happened before.
The Vatican City flag
The Vatican has activated its diplomatic channels to formally ask the Italian government to amend the "Zan bill," or the bill against homotransfobia, which would complement a pre-existing law against discrimination on the basis of gender, color, religion, political belief.
According to the Secretariat of State, the proposal now being examined by the Senate Judiciary Committee (after the first approval of the text in the House, last November 4), would violate in "some content of the agreement to revise the Concordat. This is an unprecedented act in the history of the relationship between the two States - or at least, without public precedent - and is destined to raise controversy and questions. In fact, the Church had never intervened in the approval process of an Italian law, exercising the powers provided for by the Lateran Pacts (and their subsequent modifications, as in this case).
The "Note Verbale"
The move was made by Monsignor Paul Richard Gallagher, English, Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. In essence, Pope Francis' foreign minister. Last June 17, the high prelate showed up at the Italian embassy to the Holy See and delivered into the hands of the first counselor a so-called "note verbale," which, in the lexicon of diplomacy, is a formal communication prepared in the third person and unsigned. In the document - albeit drafted in a "sober" manner and "on the point of law" - the concerns of the Holy See: "Some current contents of the legislative proposal under consideration by the Senate - the text reads - reduce the freedom guaranteed to the Catholic Church by Article 2, paragraphs 1 and 3 of the agreement for the revision of the Concordat.”
Monsignor Gallagher, copyright: Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres
"Freedom at risk"
According to the Vatican, in fact, some passages of the Zan bill would not only call into question the aforementioned "freedom of organization" - under indictment there would be, for example, article 7 of the bill, which would not exempt private schools from organizing activities on the occasion of the constituted National Day against Homophobia, Lesbophobia and Transphobia - but would even attack, in a more general sense, the "freedom of thought" of the Catholic community. The note expresses precisely a concern about discriminatory conduct, with the fear that the approval of the law could even lead to judicial risks. "We ask that our concerns be accepted”, is in fact the conclusion of the document delivered to the Italian government. The leap in quality
The point, as mentioned, concerns precisely the "level" on which the Holy See has decided, this time, to play the game. The Church's criticism of the "Zan bill" is certainly not new. The Italian Bishops' Conference has already officially intervened twice on this issue: the first time in June 2020 ("There are already adequate safeguards to prevent and repress any violent or persecutory behavior", the bishops said at the time); and the second time no more than a month and a half ago ("A law that intends to combat discrimination cannot and must not pursue this objective with intolerance", was the note of President Gualtiero Bassetti). Not to mention the individual positions taken ("It is a theological attack on the pillars of Catholic doctrine", the bishop of Ventimiglia-Sanremo Antonio Suetta, for example, recently affirmed"). But it has always been a matter of legitimate "external", "political" positions. Like the many direct and indirect ones, i.e. mediated by the parties of reference, recorded over the years (in 2005 Cardinal Ruini came to take sides publicly in favor of abstentionism in the referendum vote on assisted reproduction). But diplomacy has never been activated. The Vatican State has never knocked on the door of the Italian State asking for an account, directly, of a law. What happens
The same day, according to Corriere, the note would have been delivered by the advisors of the Italian embassy to the Holy See to the Cabinet of the Foreign Ministry of Luigi Di Maio and the Office of Relations with Parliament of the Farnesina. And now it is expected to be brought to the attention of Premier Mario Draghi and Parliament. But what could happen now? Theoretically, according to the Concordat, we could also be faced with the hypothesis that, faced with a problem of correct application of the Pact, the activation of the so-called "joint commission" (foreseen by article 14) would take place. But it is too early to draw conclusions. The only thing that is certain is that we are beyond a simple moral suasion.