The Zan bill does not prohibit the Church from forming the Church (if this was the fear of the Vatican)

The Zan bill does not prohibit the Church from forming the Church (if this was the fear of the Vatican)

Just read the text of the bill against homobistransphobia, misogyny and skill to understand how the criticisms against freedom of thought and education do not stand up

Milan pride 2018 (Claudio Furlan / LaPresse) It was learned yesterday that , on 17 June, the Vatican Secretariat of State delivered a "note verbale" to the Embassy of Italy to the Holy See, with which it hoped for "a different modulation of the regulatory text" brought by the Zan bill, approved by Chamber of Deputies on November 4, 2020 and today under discussion in the Senate. Therefore, in the middle of the parliamentary process for the approval of a law by a sovereign state and following positions already officially adopted by the Italian Bishops' Conference against the Zan bill, the Vatican has opted for the diplomatic level, using a precise instrument of diplomacy to note that "some contents" of the Zan bill, "particularly in the part in which the criminalization of discriminatory behaviors is established for reasons based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity", "would have the effect to negatively affect the freedoms guaranteed to the Catholic Church and its faithful by the current concordat regime ".

Recalling the Sacred Scriptures, the ecclesial tradition and the authentic Magisterium of the Pope and the Bishops, the Vatican Secretariat first observed that the "multiple effects" consideration of "sexual difference" is part of an "anthropological perspective" that the Catholic Church does not consider available, because it derives from divine revelation itself ”; he then noted that this prospect is "guaranteed by the Agreement between the Holy See and the Italian Republic for the revision of the Lateran Concordat, signed on February 18, 1984" and, finally, referred to "specifically" Article 2, paragraph 1, of that Agreement, which states that “the Italian Republic recognizes the full freedom of the Catholic Church to carry out its pastoral, educational and charitable mission, of evangelization and sanctification. In particular, the Church is guaranteed the freedom of organization, public exercise of worship, the exercise of the magisterium and spiritual ministry as well as jurisdiction in ecclesiastical matters "and article 2, paragraph 3, according to which" it is guaranteed to Catholics and to their associations and organizations the full freedom of assembly and manifestation of thought with words, writing and any other means of dissemination ".

In short: it is written in black and white - with an unprecedented foray into the field - that the approval of the Zan bill would violate the Church-State Concordat. So, in the event of approval of the bill by the Senate, the Joint Commission provided for by art. 14 of the Revision Agreement, which reads as follows: "Should difficulties arise in the future in the interpretation or application of the previous provisions, the Holy See and the Italian Republic will entrust the search for a friendly solution to a joint Commission appointed by them".

A straight leg

The Vatican initiative has naturally occupied a great deal of space in the public debate, once again questioning the repeated, improper interference by the Church in Italian politics and the consequences of a such a strong intervention, aimed at modifying a text of law under parliamentary examination, without considering (or wanting to forget) that - last October - the Chamber of Deputies had already rejected two preliminary questions of constitutionality, based on arguments substantially similar to those used in the Vatican note: freedom of association and freedom of education according to religious precepts.

On a strictly juridical theory, then, it is a question of reading the rules of the Zan bill to verify whether the freedoms guaranteed to the Church by the Concordat are compromised. Frankly, from reading the text one fails to discern this risk; on the other hand, one immediately deduces what the real measure of the Vatican intervention is.

No limits to the pastoral mission

No norm of that bill, in fact, prevents the Catholic Church from continuing to to carry out its pastoral, educational and social mission or to exercise, among others, the freedom of organization and of the spiritual ministry. And indeed, with particular regard to the instruction and the first paragraph of art. 2 of the Agreement, just read art. 7 of the Zan bill to grasp the rationale, completely consistent with the messages that the President of the Italian Republic also takes care to disseminate on May 17 of each year: art. 7, in fact, recognizes that date as the National Day against homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia "in order to promote the culture of respect and inclusion as well as to combat prejudice, discrimination and violence motivated by sexual orientation and gender identity, in implementation of the principles of equality and equal social dignity enshrined in the Constitution ", providing for the organization of" ceremonies, meetings and any other useful initiative "by schools," in compliance with the plan triennial of the educational offer and the educational pact of co-responsibility ".

School autonomy is therefore expressly guaranteed and valued, since all the activities relating to the Day of 17 May can and must take place with the involvement of students, students, parents and teachers.

Moreover, given the need (which is learned on the benches of the University at the first lessons of any signamento of Jurisprudence) to read the regulatory texts as a whole, we see that the rationale set out in art. 7 of the Zan bill also responds to the obligation clearly assumed by the Church and the Italian State in article 1 of the Agreement for the revision of the Concordat, where it is established that "the Italian Republic and the Holy See are committed to mutual collaboration for the promotion of 'man and the good of the country ".

The role of the school

The school is a place for the formation of the person, for learning and for the protection of fundamental rights and for the enhancement and promotion of identity: not just a physical place, but a community of growth and the daily structuring of the personality, respecting everyone. Promoting equality at school is promoting the good of mankind and the good of a country that rejects, by law and on a par with what happens in other European states, any form of violence or discrimination. In this perspective, the Vatican intervention certainly cannot be called a form of "collaboration". Indeed.

And, on this level, one cannot even preach a distinction between private and public schools, tout court exempting the former from the provision of art. 7 of the Zan bill. Not only because, in the concrete ways of implementing that article, the principle of school autonomy will always remain firm (so that each school will identify the methods deemed most appropriate, since - among other things - art.1, paragraph 1, of Law 62/2000 continues to safeguard "the educational demand of families"), but also because it is not intellectually honest, nor legally acceptable, than to "non-equal" or "equal" schools (the latter, carrying out public service and being included in the national education system) is allowed to reject a priori the promotion of founding and founding constitutional values, indicated in art. 7.

Free thinking and free manifestations

What, then, in paragraph 3 of art. 2 of the Agreement revising the Concordat and the freedom of the faithful to meet and express their thoughts, it must be reiterated that, with the Zan bill, that freedom (obviously) remains preserved, in order to spread Catholic values ​​without, however (and just as obviously), that one can incite discrimination or violence: after all, and by way of example, one thing is the meeting of the faithful who recognize marriage only as constituted between a man and a woman, another is the meeting of the same people whose purpose is to instigate the marginalization and discrimination of same-sex families, thus damaging their full social and constitutional dignity.

And on the other hand, as it has long taught us also the Supreme Court of Cassation, “the constitutional principle of freedom of expression of thought, pursuant to art. 21 of the Constitution, has no absolute value, but must be coordinated with other constitutional values ​​of equal rank. In particular, the right to freely express one's thoughts meets the limit deriving from art. 3 of the Constitution which solemnly consecrates the equal dignity and equality of all persons "(see Cass., Section III, no. 37581/2008; as well as Cass., Section V, no. 31655/2001).

As if that were not enough, art. 4 of the bill Zan specifies that "the free expression of beliefs or opinions as well as legitimate conduct attributable to the pluralism of ideas or the freedom of choices are reserved, provided that they are not suitable for determining the concrete danger of carrying out discriminatory or violent acts". Well, we do not want to doubt, not even for a moment, that the Church - seeing that the Concordat guarantees its faithful and their associations "the full freedom of assembly and manifestation of thought by word, writing and any other means of dissemination "- has not always understood this freedom as highly reluctant with respect to behaviors, precisely," capable of determining the concrete danger of the carrying out of discriminatory or violent acts ".

The attack of the Vatican

In the Vatican attack, then, and in line with a public debate made too often opaque by imaginative reconstructions regarding alleged “gender” indoctrinations deriving from the Zan bill, we forget that, even today, art. 604-bis of the criminal code places discrimination as the foundation of crimes committed for racial, ethnic, national or religious reasons. In short, it is not clear why the current criminal laws on discrimination and violence cannot be extended to that based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim, since, even in this case, the discrimination is harmful. of the dignity of the human being, being sexual orientation and gender identity a component of personal identity, constitutionally protected. The Constitutional Court has clearly stated this to us, since the sentence 221/2015, and it is good to remember the words: "Gender identity is a constitutive element of the right to personal fundamental aspects of the person ".

And, then, one can only record a fact: the real reason for the Vatican's intervention lies in the desire to reaffirm the" anthropological perspective of sexual difference ", obliterating the most intimate dimensions of the personality, which are already constitutionally protected and valued regardless of the individual, any professions of faith.

And this is a very dangerous ridge, because in the process of approving a law it collides head-on with secularism of the state, "supreme principle" of the constitutional order: on the one hand, art. 7 of the Constitution states "The State and the Catholic Church are, each in their own order, independent and sovereign", preventing diplomatic interventions on ongoing laws; on the other hand, the pluralism guaranteed by that principle is, in addition to being confessional, "cultural" (thus the Constitutional Court, in judgment no. 203/1989); finally, the violation of the Concordat cannot be invoked before the approval of the bill and regardless of concrete episodes, possibly capable of conferring legitimacy to act, before the competent offices, to subjects with specific interests protected by the concordat rules.

The "anthropological perspective" of "sexual difference" recalled in the Vatican note, unavailable because it "derives from divine revelation", cannot - as such and precisely because such - allow invoking the Concordat in order to advance the candidacy to impose itself on the whole civil society of another sovereign state, altering the mechanisms of political formation and the principle of the separation of orders.

That perspective, it must be said rigorously, can continue to be preached by the Church in its order, but it cannot come to mortify subjectivity, bodies, dimensions of human experience, which are protected and - indeed - promoted by the personalist principle that informs every single article of our Constitution. We are all and all part of a plural and pluralist community, which welcomes and does not reject, which records experiences and does not repudiate identity.

The State must do its part, in its order, "for the good of man and the country ”.

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