When It Comes To Gay Unions, Bergoglio Doesn’t Say No
They are about to become law in Italy, but the pope is discouraging Catholics from raising the barricades. He did the same thing in Argentina. But there’s a difference in his politics on immigration, poverty, Islamic radicalism
by Sandro Magister
ROME, January 15, 2016 – Jorge Mario Bergoglio likes his crowds festive and prayerful, never politically aggressive.
In Buenos Aires, in 2010, he sent back home the Catholics who had gathered in front of parliament for a prayer vigil against the imminent approval of homosexual marriage. He persuaded them to “avoid the impasse.”
Of course, in that law Bergoglio saw in action nothing less than “the father of lies who has the presumption to confound and deceive the children of God,” but in public he did not say a word. He only released a letter that he had written to cloistered Carmelite nuns, in which he blamed the devil and asked for prayers.
Today as well, now that a law on homosexual unions is on the way in Italy, Pope Francis is not swerving from this stance.
He has thundered against “the new ideological colonialisms that seek to destroy the family” and against “that error of the human mind which is gender theory.” But he did so while he was on his way to Manila and to Naples, both times out of context, never in the heat of political combat.
Last June, at the announcement of a “Family Day” in Rome against the legalization of homosexual unions, secretary of the Italian episcopal conference Nunzio Galantino, the pope’s go-between with the bishops, did everything he could to make it a stillbirth. And when the demonstration went ahead anyway and saw massive public attendance, Pope Francis was careful not to give it his public blessing.
The faithful may indeed act in the field of politics, the pope said the following November to a gathering of Italian Church leaders in Florence, but they should not forget that they have “bishop-pilots.”
The “Family Day” of 2007, the one that stopped the approval of de facto unions, was in effect organized by the CEI. But even among those who participated in it there are some who take Bergoglio’s new stance, and no longer refer to it as a success but as a “failure” not to be repeated: the words of Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti and of the new president of the Catholic Family Forum, Gianluigi De Palo.
Easygoing and viewed favorably by secular opinion when it comes to the new laws on homosexual unions, Pope Francis instead takes a more dissonant stance on other crucial geopolitical questions: from immigration to poverty to Islamic radicalism.
On immigration flows, for the pope it all boils down to a single word: “acceptance,” and to the consequent disapproval of all those who do not conform to it.
Francis carefully avoids calling the reproved by name, including states and public institutions. In Lampedusa, on the small island where he made his first journey as pope, he raised a vague cry: “Shame!” But if one looks at what the rulers are saying and doing in Europe and in the world, the distance between them and the pope appears to be measureless.
“Acceptance is needed, but rigor is also needed,” said Italian president Sergio Mattarella, a Catholic and a leftist, in his year-end message to the nation. “Common rules are needed to distinguish those fleeing from wars or persecutions, who therefore have a right to asylum, and other migrants who must instead be repatriated.” They are words that Francis would not endorse.
As for poverty, the solution that the pope systematically invokes is that of giving land, homes, jobs to all men. But the political scientist Angelo Panebianco is right when he objects that “there is in Francis the idea that all the resources are already available and that their scarcity, rather than an objective barrier, is instead the effect of a conspiracy of the dominant classes at the expense of the planet’s poor.”
Last July 12, questioned point-blank by a German journalist on the flight back from Paraguay, Francis admitted the “mistake” of overlooking the middle class in his analyses, but he added that this “is becoming smaller and smaller,” crushed as it is by the increase in inequality between rich and poor. Evidently it escaped the pope that the numbers say the opposite, starting with the giants India and China.
And as for radical Islamism, it is astonishing that Francis should say this is the offspring of Western aggression and poverty, “structural” in the Marxist sense, instead of that of a native religious choice, of an interpretation of the Quran firmly rooted in it. Here as well the pope’s political narrative appears detached from reality. And as a result ineffective.
This commentary was published in “L’Espresso” no. 3 of 2016 on newsstands as of January 15, on the opinion page entitled “Settimo cielo” entrusted to Sandro Magister.
Here is the index of all the previous commentaries:
> “L’Espresso” in seventh heaven
The question of immigration was the focus of much of Francis’s January 11 speech to the diplomatic corps:
> “Dear Ambassadors…”
The pope recognized that in Europe “a number of questions have been raised about the real possibilities for accepting and accommodating people.” But in spite of this he urged states to implement an unlimited acceptance of immigration flows: not only of those coming from places of war and persecution, but also those driven by the search for better living conditions.
And in encouraging assistance for development in the countries of origin, he renewed his admonition that such assistance should not be linked to “ideological strategies and practices alien or contrary to the cultures of the peoples being assisted.” Which means avoiding the imposition of laws on homosexual marriage.
The following is, instead, what the Italian president (and Catholic) Sergio Mattarella said on the subject of immigration in his year-end message to the nation:
“The migratory phenomenon arises from global causes and will be of long duration. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking that we can remove it, but it can be managed. And it must be managed. . .
“Common rules are needed to distinguish those fleeing from wars or persecutions, who therefore have a right to asylum, and other migrants who must instead be repatriated, always guaranteeing them dignified treatment . . .
“Acceptance is needed, but rigor is also needed. Those who are in Italy must respect the laws and culture of our country. . . Those immigrants who instead commit crimes must be stopped and punished. . . Those who are dangerous must be expelled.
“The foreign communities in Italy are called to work together with the institutions against the preachers of hatred and against those who practice violence.”
It is evident that in the matter of immigration there is a wide gulf between the positions of the pope and of the Italian president. As is demonstrated more extensively in this article:
> Sull’immigrazione, tra Bergoglio e Mattarella c’è disaccordo pieno
More details on how in 2010 the then-archbishop of Buenos Aires addressed the legalization of homosexual marriage in Argentina:
> Bergoglio, the General Who Wants to Win without Fighting (10.3.2014)
> Against Gay Marriage, General Bergoglio Sent the Nuns in to Fight (15.11.2013)
> Vatican Diary / Six more votes for “gay” unions (10.6.2013)
In Italy, a major demonstration in Rome against the law on homosexual unions under debate in parliament has been announced by Catholic figures for the end of January.
But episcopal conference secretary Nunzio Galantino, placed in this role by the pope, has hastened to deny any support for it on the part of the CEI.
If a bishop would like to participate in it, “he may do so, but he may not presume that all the other bishops should participate,” he said in a January 13 interview with “Corriere della Sera”:
> La CEI: “Unioni civili: giusto, ma le adozioni siano fuori”
As for the general political vision of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, condensed in his two speeches to the “popular movements” of the whole world, which he convened in Rome on October 28, 2014 and in Santa Cruz, Bolivia on July 9, 2015, see the following:
> From Perón to Bergoglio. With the People, Against Globalization (12.8.2015)