Among other initiatives of this Holy year of Mercy, Rome will be in the frontline of a large demonstration in defense of the family; next January 30, in fact, a new “Family Day” will be organized in the capital, two days after the landing of the civil unions bill (the so-called Cirinnà Legislative Decree) in the Senate. The day is promoted by the Committee “Let’s defend our children,” one of the organizers of the rally held in Rome last June 20.
The reasons for opposing the Cirinnà bill are well known and more and more shared by people, beyond their religious and political affiliations: the natural family, which generates and grows children, is not comparable to other social groups; hence the attempt to align it, as some people want to do, with gay unions, photocopying marriage laws and applying them to the civil unions of homosexual couples. In Terris has interviewed the President of the Committee “We defend our children,” Professor Massimo Gandolfini.
Next January 30 an event of utter importance is going to take place. It will be a crucial opportunity to make the collective voice of the Catholics heard on questions that are essential to the life of the community. There is little time left. How do you feel?
“Burdened with a huge responsibility. I wish to repeat the success of the last meeting, which was called ‘a miracle’; Actually I hope for an even bigger success this time in terms of participation. I carry around a goal, to avoid repeating the failures and mistakes of the past. The organizational purpose is to bring together the many friends who at the time (last June 20) felt left out or not properly involved.”
This applies to basic Catholic movements. But what about the senior echelons of the Vatican? What is your approach this time?
“Many things have changed. I have got the feeling that participation and sharing are wider this time. The commitment of the individual bishops of the dioceses, who have invited us to hold conferences, lectures, and preparatory meetings of what is going to happen on January 30, reassured me greatly. Me and many friends of mine have had the opportunity to carry out this task of informing and divulging the initiative. We have found amazing bishops who were very sensitive and who have understood the gravity of the moment. I feel in perfect and total communion, not only with the Holy Father (which is obvious), but with the whole clergy.”
What are the immediate goal of the event and the reverberation you hope for in the future?
“ou have mentioned two important and complementary features. The image which best represents this situation is the one used by the Pope: the symphony orchestra. Violins have to be violins, trumpets must be trumpets, and so on…. There are people among us who are capable of doing a great legal-legislative job, whereas other people will be better at a philosophical-anthropological kind of activity. Still others, thanks to the gift of Providence, will have the ability to rally the faithful and send a message to the nation, especially to those who will have to decide on this question. The latter must feel that the sentiment of the Italian people is not homogeneous. The manifestation which is going to take place on January 30 will not be an event organized for its own sake; there is much important work to do afterwards. To be able to win, an army has to be united in the first place. History teaches us that when divisions, inequalities, and distinction begin, there is a high risk to lose the battle.”
Terms and concepts that are very different are often perceived as synonymous by the public opinion. Family and civil union, parenting and Stepchild Adoption, and all this creates confusion, especially with regard to the goals of 30 January. Would you like to clarify this situation?
“Me – the main organizer of the Committee – and my staff have very clear ideas about what are the focal points of the battle. Thank you for the opportunity you give us to repeat them in order to avoid misunderstandings. We say “no” to the bill on Stepchild Adoption, “no” to strengthened custody, “no” to the two years period of pre-adoptive foster care, and “no” to the equivalence between all affective unions. We say “yes” to the rights of the individuals, “no” to the rights to affective relationships which may be – even remotely – confused with family and marriage. We support the principles expressed in the Article 29 of the Italian Constitution and want them to stay in force. Namely, we support the idea that family is a natural society founded on marriage. We say that children have the right to have a father and a mother, that family is the biological and sociological place where the child can be brought up in a harmonious way.”
This is appropriate clarification, considering that there is much confusion with regard to some terms…
“There is often an attempt to pass off lies as truth behind these efforts; when they say that strengthened custody has nothing to do with adoption, only a naive person could believe it. Because custody does not have that ‘final’ meaning they want to endow it with; its goal is rather to give time to the family of origin to get organized, come out of distress, and recover the connection between parents and children. Whereas in the cases that are currently put forward, which family should the child go back to? There is no family with problems in the background, but a child who is procured, often bought from abroad through the practice of womb for rent. Since the Stepchild Adoption bill was too brutal, they have come up with the idea of pre-adoptive foster care which becomes adoption two years later. It is the same old attempt to hide reality – which is unfortunately evident and has devastating prospects – behind a veil of hypocrisy.”
Let us talk about politics. Beyond the Palazzo Chigi, which seems to be rather lukewarm – perhaps due to problems of internal stability -, a large portion of the government has recently moved independently, towards a position of explicit opposition to the Cirinnà bill. What is your opinion on this new element?
“It is an important action, I totally agree with it. The huge amount of internal work in the aftermath of the manifestation held on June 20, which has awakened consciences has contributed to this change of route. An awareness raising activity which has awakened consciences. In different forums, I have stressed the following fundamental concept: moral conscience should go before party discipline. So, I wonder, how can a Catholic vote for a bill that is undermining the deep structure of the family and the right of every child to have a father and a mother?”.
This invitation to listen to their conscience goes for the politicians, but not only. There are too many couch Catholics…
“You are right. We never make the first step, we never get outraged. Citizens may send a strong message. We cannot just stay at home, not looking beyond our own backyard, ‘and every man for himself, and the devil take the hindmost’. It is not consistent with the Catholic doctrine, and it is certainly not the mission God has entrusted believers with.”
Many people, let us face it, often have to deal with manipulated information and defamatory accusations…
“The problem of managing the feeling of fear engendered by many lies is real. People who dare to say what I have said are labeled as homophobes, fascists, fundamentalists, discriminators. I am not violating anyone’s rights, everyone’s life and choices have to be respected, but it does not mean we have to prepare a sort of cultural cocktail, where truth, good, and evil are no longer recognizable. Benedict XVI says that the evil of our society is relativism. In fact we have reached the point when we deny and transform nature itself. Yes, because a child is born to a father and a mother, a man and a woman. Two men, five men, or twenty men put together will not give birth to a child alone. This truth is denied today. Yet, it is not enough to change it.”