THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY AND THE GAY MOUSE

This article is dedicated to the examination of the discussion and of the Final Report of the recently concluded Extraordinary Synod on the family, regarding the theme of the relationship between church and homosexuals. I published it in Italian on the Gay Project sites on October 19, 2014.

I must dutifully acknowledge Pope Francis that he has allowed all those involved to follow the work of the Synod, allowing the publication of the documents prepared during the Synod itself, as well as the voting results on the final deliberations. It is a criterion of transparency that on such delicate issues is a must, but it should not be forgotten that the publicity of the documents is also aimed at avoiding gossip both inside and outside the Vatican.

I invite the reader to arm himself with good will to follow the path of the Synod with me from the beginning.

After a considerable work of consultation and coordination of the indications emerging from the individual local churches, in view of the Synod, the Instrumentum laboris “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization” was published by the Vatican, which in Part II, Chapter III, letter B, concerning unions between persons of the same sex, is expressed as follows:
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b) Concerning Unions of Persons of the Same Sex

Civil Recognition

110. On unions of persons of the same sex, the responses of the bishops’ conferences refer to Church teaching. “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. […] Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided’” (CDF, Considerations regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons, 4). The responses indicate that the recognition in civil law of unions between persons of the same sex largely depends on the socio-cultural, religious and political context. In this regard, the episcopal conferences describe three instances: the first exists when repressive and punitive measures are taken in reaction to the phenomenon of homosexuality in all its aspects, especially when the public manifestation of homosexuality is prohibited by civil law. Some responses indicate that, in this context, the Church provides different forms of spiritual care for single, homosexual people who seek the Church’s assistance.

111. A second context is one where the phenomenon of homosexuality is fluid. Homosexual behavior is not punished, but simply tolerated until it becomes visible or public. In this context, legislation on civil unions between persons of the same sex does not usually exist. In political circles, especially in the West, however, the increasing tendency is to adopt laws providing for registered partnerships or so-called “marriage” between persons of the same sex. People argue non-discrimination to give support to this idea, an approach which is perceived by believers and a good part of the public, in central and eastern Europe, as an imposition by a political and foreign culture.

112. The responses describe a third context, one where States have introduced legislation recognizing civil unions or so-called “marriages” between homosexual persons. In some countries, the situation reflects a real redefining of marriage, where the couple is viewed only in legal terms, with such references as “equal rights” and “non-discrimination” without any thought to a constructive dialogue in the matter based on the deeper anthropological issues involved and the centrality of the integral well-being of the human person, especially the integral well-being of the children in these unions. When legal equality is given to heterosexual and homosexual marriage, the State often allows the adoption of children (biological children of either partner or children born through artificial fertilization). Such is the case, particularly in English-speaking countries and central Europe.

An evaluation of the particular Churches

113. Every bishops’ conference voiced opposition to “redefining” marriage between a man and a woman through the introduction of legislation permitting a union between two people of the same sex. The episcopal conferences amply demonstrate that they are trying to find a balance between the Church’s teaching on the family and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions. On the whole, the extreme reactions to these unions, whether compromising or uncompromising, do not seem to have facilitated the development of an effective pastoral programme which is consistent with the Magisterium and compassionate towards the persons concerned.

114. A factor which clearly has an impact on the Church’s pastoral care and one which complicates the search for a balanced attitude in this situation is the promotion of a gender ideology. In some places, this ideology tends to exert its influence even at the elementary level, spreading a mentality which, intending to eliminate homophobia, proposes, in fact, to undermine sexual identity.

115. Episcopal conferences supply a variety of information on unions between persons of the same sex. In countries where legislation exists on civil unions, many of the faithful express themselves in favour of a respectful and non-judgmental attitude towards these people and a ministry which seeks to accept them. This does not mean, however, that the faithful give equal status to heterosexual marriage and civil unions between persons of the same sex. Some responses and observations voice a concern that the Church’s acceptance of people in such unions could be construed as recognition of their union.
Some Pastoral Guidelines

116. When considering the possibility of a ministry to these people, a distinction must be made between those who have made a personal, and often painful, choice and live that choice discreetly so as not to give scandal to others, and those whose behaviour promotes and actively — often aggressively — calls attention to it. Many conferences emphasize that, due to the fact that these unions are a relatively recent phenomenon, no pastoral programs exist in their regard. Others admit a certain unease at the challenge of accepting these people with a merciful spirit and, at the same time, holding to the moral teaching of the Church, all the while attempting to provide appropriate pastoral care which takes every aspect of the person into consideration. Some responses recommend not using phrases such as “gay,” “lesbian” or “homosexual” to define a person’s identity.

117. Many responses and observations call for theological study in dialogue with the human sciences to develop a multi-faceted look at the phenomenon of homosexuality. Others recommend collaborating with specific entities, e.g., the Pontifical Academy of the Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Life, in thoroughly examining the anthropological and theological aspects of human sexuality and the sexual difference between man and woman in order to address the issue of gender ideology.

118. The great challenge will be to develop a ministry which can maintain the proper balance between accepting persons in a spirit of compassion and gradually guiding them to authentic human and Christian maturity. In this regard, some conferences refer to certain organizations as successful models for such a ministry.

119. Sex education in families and educational institutions is an increasingly urgent challenge, especially in countries where the State tends to propose in schools a one-sided view and a gender ideology. Formation programmes ought to be established in schools or parish communities which offer young people an adequate idea of Christian and emotional maturity to allow them to face even the phenomenon of homosexuality. At the same time, the observations show that there is still no consensus in the Church on the specific way of receiving persons in these unions. The first step would be a slow process of gathering information and distinguishing criteria of discernment for not only ministers and pastoral workers but also groups and ecclesial movements.

The transmission of the Faith to children in same sex unions

120. The responses are clearly opposed to legislation which would allow the adoption of children by persons in a same-sex union, because they see a risk to the integral good of the child, who has the right to have a mother and father, as pointed out recently by Pope Francis (cf. Address to Members of the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE), 11 April 2014). However, when people living in such unions request a child’s baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children. Many responses indicate that it would be helpful to receive more concrete pastoral directives in these situations. Clearly, the Church has the duty to ascertain the actual elements involved in transmitting the faith to the child. Should a reasonable doubt exist in the capability of persons in a same sex union to instruct the child in the Christian faith, proper support is to be secured in the same manner as for any other couple seeking the baptism of their children. In this regard, other people in their family and social surroundings could also provide assistance. In these cases, the pastor is carefully to oversee the preparation for the possible baptism of the child, with particular attention given to the choice of the godfather and godmother.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/…ia_en.html
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I don’t intend to comment on this text by entering into the merits, I limit myself just to underline the breadth of expectations that could arise from it in so many faithful and not.

After the beginning of the Synod, the Relator General, Card. Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, presents his “Relatio post disceptationem” on October 13, 2014, a document that is a kind of draft of the final document, which expresses itself in this way regarding homosexuality:

Welcome homosexual people

50. Homosexual persons have talents and qualities to offer to the Christian community: can we welcome these people, guaranteeing them an area of fraternity in our communities? Often they wish to meet a Church that is a welcoming home for them. Can our communities be able to accept it and evaluate their sexual orientation without compromising the Catholic doctrine on family and marriage?

51. The homosexual question challenges us in a serious reflection on how to develop realistic paths of emotional growth and human and evangelical maturity by integrating the sexual dimension: it therefore presents itself as an important educational challenge. The Church also affirms that unions between persons of the same sex cannot be equated with marriage between men and women. It is not even acceptable that pressures are exerted on the attitude of pastors or that international organizations can condition financial aid to the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it is noted that there are cases in which mutual support until the sacrifice is a precious support for the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church has special attention towards children living with same-sex couples, reiterating that the needs and rights of children should always be placed first.
http://press.vatican.va/content/salastam…03037.html (My translation)
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As we can see, the “Relatio post disceptationem” very strongly restricts the scope of the “Instrumentum laboris”, but also contains some elements that do not speak of openness but of respect at least towards homosexual persons. From the point of view of a lay man who sees things from the outside, however, with the “Relatio post disceptationem”, the mountain of expectations has given birth to a skimpy little mouse. The press, however, welcomes the Relatio as a great opening of the church towards homosexuals. However skimpy, the gay mouse is around the Vatican but the austere Synod fathers are not intimidated by that mouse and armed with their age-old wisdom, are ready to catch it before it escapes officially from the Synod hall. Here the minor circles sharpen their weapons:

This is the expression of the French-language circle “A”, of which the Eminent Card. Robert SARAH is moderator and S.E. Mons. François-Xavier DUMORTIER, S.J. is speaker:

“As for the reception of homosexual persons, it seems clear to us that the Church, following the image of Christ the Good Shepherd (John 10, 11-18) has always wanted to welcome people who knock on his door, a door open to all, people that must be received with respect, compassion and recognizing the dignity of each one. To accompany a person pastorally doesn’t mean to validate either a form of sexuality or a form of life.”[1]

The French-language Circle B, whose moderator is Cardinal Em. Card. Christoph SCHÖNBORN, O.P. and Speaker S.E. Mons. André LÉONARD, expresses itself as follows:

“5. We reiterated our respect and our welcoming towards homosexual people and we denounced the unjust and often violent discrimination that they suffered and still suffer, sometimes, even in the Church, alas! But this doesn’t mean that the Church must legitimize homosexual practices, much less recognize, as some states do, a so-called homosexual “marriage”. On the contrary, we denounce all the maneuvers of some international organizations to impose, through financial blackmail, to the poor countries some laws that establish the so-called homosexual “marriage”. [2]

The English Language Circle B having as a Moderator the Card. Wilfrid Fox NAPIER, O.F.M. and as a Speaker S.E. Mons. Diarmuid MARTIN so expresses itself:

“On the theme of the pastoral care of people with homosexual tendencies, the group observed that the Church must continue to promote the revealed nature of marriage as always between a man and a woman united throughout life in a life-giving and faithful communion.
The group encouraged pastors and parishes to take care of people with the same sex attraction, providing for them in the family of the Church, always protecting their dignity as children of God, created in his image. Within the Church, they should find a home where they can listen, with everyone else, to the call of Jesus to follow him in fidelity to the truth, to receive His grace to do so, and His mercy when they are wrong.”[3]

The Report of the Italian Language Circle “A”, having as its moderator the Cardinal Fernando FILONI and as Speaker S.E Mons. Edoardo MENICHELLI, expressed itself as follows:

“With regard to the pastoral care of homosexual persons, we have directed ourselves towards the proposal of a single statement in which it was emphasized both a commitment to proximity oriented to evangelization and the style of the Church, as an open house, enhancing the gifts, the good will and the sincere path of each one. It has been reaffirmed that unions between persons of the same sex cannot be equated with marriage between men and women, expressing the concern to safeguard the rights of children who must grow harmoniously with the tenderness of their father and mother.”

The Report of the Italian Language Circle C having for Moderator S.E. Mons. Angelo MASSAFRA, O.F.M. and for Speaker, Fr. Manuel Jesús ARROBA CONDE, C.M.F., expresses itself as follows:

“In this regard, the fathers pointed out some more specific aspects to enrich the proposals formulated in the text: an express mention on family movements; a special number [statement] on the adoptions; an invitation to study new presences in the educational field; a return to the texts of the instrumentum laboris about homosexual unions; an appeal to institutions to promote policies in favor of the family.”

The Report of the Spanish Language Circle A with the Moderator Card. Francisco ROBLES ORTEGA and the Speaker S.E. Mons. Luis Augusto CASTRO QUIROGA, I.M.C. expresses itself as follows:

“As for n. 50, it has been observed that we should not talk about homosexuals almost as if homosexuality were a part of their ontological being, but of people with homosexual tendencies. It was requested to replace the text of this number with the following:. “Sexuality that makes us exist as a human being as a male and a female is an essential value in anthropology and Christian theology. It makes us exist reciprocally not in indistinction but in complementarity … even people with homosexual tendencies need guidance and support to help them grow in faith and to know God’s plan for them.”[4]

The report of the Spanish Language Club “B” having as a Moderator Card. Lluís MARTÍNEZ SISTACH and as Speker S.E. Msgr. Rodolfo VALENZUELA NÚÑEZ so expresses its opinion on the Relatio post dissertationem:

“We believe that there is a lack of emphasis on important issues such as abortion, the attacks against life, the large phenomenon of adoption, the decisions taken by spouses in conscience, as well as greater clarity on the issue of homosexuality. “[5]
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Evidently, the gay mouse has sown panic among the Synodal Fathers, but they have finally managed to capture it.

The following is the paragraph of the “Relatio Synodi”, that is, of the final document of the extraordinary synod on the family, concerning the relationship between the church and the homosexuals:

Pastoral Attention towards Persons with Homosexual Tendencies

55. Some families have members who have a homosexual tendency. In this regard, the synod fathers asked themselves what pastoral attention might be appropriate for them in accordance with Church teaching: “There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.” Nevertheless, men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. “Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons, 4).

56. Exerting pressure in this regard on the Pastors of the Church is totally unacceptable: it is equally unacceptable for international organizations to link their financial assistance to poorer countries with the introduction of laws that establish “marriage” between persons of the same sex.

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/synod/…ia_en.html

It should be emphasized that point 55 was approved without the qualified majority of 2/3 but with a simple majority, however very strong and very close to 2/3, of 118 in favor and 62 against.

As is evident, the mouse was happily devoured before being able to leave the Synod hall. The initial “instrumentum laboris” was reduced to the material repetition of the contents of the “Considerations about the projects of legal recognition of unions between homosexual persons” signed by Josepf Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in June 2003.

Frankly I don’t understand the homosexual Catholics who hope to find a respectful reception by the church. Other Christian churches have taken on decidedly more evangelical positions.

Just today, 18 October 2014, the Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, ordered to register 16 homosexual marriages celebrated abroad in the official marriage register of Rome.

Thus L’Avvenire (the newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference) of October 18 begins its comment on the fact: “”An ideological choice, which certifies an unprecedented institutional affront” based on a “mystification supported at the media and political level”: so the editorial of Angelo Zema, on Roma Sette, the magazine of the diocese of Rome on newsstands on Sunday with Avvenire, defines the transcription of marriages celebrated abroad by some homosexual couples operated by the mayor of “Roma Capitale”, Ignazio Marino, in the municipal registers. The editorial speaks of “illegitimate” choices in a “context with a Hollywood tone” and “with a clear demagogic flavor”.

When the Synod was over and the gay little mouse was no more wandering around the Vatican, the CEI (Italian Episcopal Conference) immediately warned another reason for alarm: there are many gay mice, too many gay mice, just outside the Vatican walls! Fortunately, the world goes his way, even if the church goes somewhere else.
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[1] “Concernant l’accueil des personnes homosexuelles, the nous semble clair que l’Eglise, à l’image du Christ Bon Pasteur (Jn 10,11-18), a toujours voulu accueillir les personnes here frappent à sa porte, porte ouverte à tous, here sont à accueillir avec respect, compassion et dans la reconnaissance de la dignité de chacun. Accompagner pastoralement une personne ne signifie valider ni une forma de sexualité ni une forme de vie.”

[2] “5. Nous avons redit notre respect et notre accueil aux personnes homosexuelles et avons dénoncé les discriminations injustes et parfois violentes qu’elles ont subies et subissent encore parfois, y compris dans l’Église, hélas! Mais cela ne signifie pas que l’Église doive légitimer les pratiques homosexuelles et encore moins reconnaître, in the font certains Ettats, a soi-disant «mariage» homosexuel. Au contraire, nous dénonçons toutes les manœuvres de certaines international organizations visant à imposer, par voie de chantage financier, aux pays pauvres des législations instituant un soi-disant “mariage” homosexuel.”

[3] “On the subject of the pastoral care of the family, the group noted that the Church must continue to promote the revealed nature of marriage as always between one man and one woman united in lifelong, life-giving, and faithful communion.
The group encouraged pastoral care for children with same sex attraction, providing protection in the family of the Church. They say they are in the same place, they can be found in the church, they hear the call of Jesus to follow Him in fidelity to the truth. His mercy when they fail.”

[4] “Pasando at n.50, if you have observado que no if debe hablar de personas homosexuales cases como el homosexualismo fuese part of su ser ontológico, sino de personas tendencias homosexuales. If solicitó sustituir el texto de este número por el siguiente: “the sexualidad que nos hace existir como humanidad en masculino y the femenino, es a valor irrenunciable en la antropología y en the theología cristiana. Nos hace ser los unos para with los otros no en la indistinción until en la complementariedad … Las personas with tendencias homosexuales tambien necesitan de acogida y acompañamiento que les ayude a crecer en la fe y a conocer el plan de Dios para ellos.”

[5] “Consideramos que faltaron en el mismo énfasis sobre temas importantes como el aborto, los atentados contra la vida, el amplio fenómeno de la adopción, las decision-making en conciencia de los exposos, así como a mayor claridad sobre el theme de la homosexualidad .”

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-the-synod-on-the-family-and-the-gay-mouse
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CRITICAL POINTS OF THE PATH OF A GAY GUY TOWARDS HETEROSEXUAL MARRIAGE

I noticed that the statistical sites show the constant presence of readers who get to Gay Project, through the Google search engine, using keys like: ”married gays”. The problem exists and it is not statistically irrelevant as usually believed.

I try to summarize here some of the fundamental elements that emerged from the Gay Project experience with regard to married gays. Among the absolutely fundamental elements in determining the path that leads gay guys to marriage, we must remember:

1) The idea that being gay is a “choice” that is somehow modifiable or a “vice” that can be prevented or corrected.

2) The idea that sexuality is a marginal reality that, for a heterosexual, must be exclusively instrumental to the creation of a family and procreation and, for a gay guy, must in any case be sacrificed in the name of the family and children.

3) The idea that a gay guy can be fully realized, that is can be realzed at the family level, because the true realization is only that, exclusively through the denial of his sexuality and that this denial will be, after all, painless because compensated by the family affection. In essence, the instinctive affectivity, connected with sexuality, is radically denied in this way. Cardinal Lajolo, in an interview in March 2014, declared, as if it were obvious, that “Gay marriages cannot fail to disappoint those who make them”, in reality, if we consider the constant decrease in the propensity to marriage, the exponential increase in “femicides” and the constantly increasing percentages of divorces and separations (in Italy 50% of marriages end up in divorce or separation), what emerges is the substantial separation of society from the Catholic model of marriage and family.

4) Proposing to a young heterosexual the traditional family as a condition of happiness means to deceive him, on the contrary, it would be useful to induce him to reflect on the problems and uncertainties that marriage can bring and actually brings with itself, given that 50% of marriages end up in court. Proposing heterosexual marriage as the only possible option for a homosexual means even laying the foundation not only for the failure of an entirely artificial family union, which will inevitably weigh on children, but also means condemning a gay to a life entirely against nature, i.e. against his nature, and condemning a woman, who would have every right to have a husband really in love with her, to live in a state of great uncertainty and total dissatisfaction not only sexual but, in almost all cases, even emotional.

5) The idea that the “sacrifice” is a value in itself. Too often guys tend to see the renunciation of their spontaneous sexuality as a merit in the name of the ideal of the family. In reality, when a gay gets married he is convinced that accepting the sacrifice of his sexuality is something high and noble, but in no case self-repression leads, in the long run, to positive outcomes, and the “sacrifice” accepted by the gay, it actually ends up being a violent conditioning imposed on the life of a wife who often isn’t event aware.

6) The idea that conformism to traditional values is always positive, even for those who with certain traditional institutions, such as marriage, have nothing at all to do. Families rarely appreciate freedom and often tend to believe that what is socially accepted is, for this only reason, the best path to follow for everyone and in every situation.

7) The idea that obedience is always a virtue and the free of the single person must be systematically sacrificed in the name of socially accepted general rules.

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If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-critical-points-of-the-path-of-a-gay-guy-towards-heterosexual-marriage

HOMOSEXUALITY AS A GUILT-PATHOLOGY AND MARRIAGE AS A REMEDY

This post is dedicated to married gays, so I will leave aside all the considerations related to sexual orientation of guys who have a straight sex life at the couple level and having a sex life typically gay at the level of masturbation, because these considerations have an important sense only before you get married.

I will start here from the situation of married gays, as I see it through the chats with people living in this condition. In my dialogues with married gay guys of all ages, the idea that when we are young, we are very often led to underestimate homosexuality and to consider it a choice and, even worse, a reversible choice, is always present. Too many times one hears people telling that one chooses to be gay and this totally false statement creeps into the brains of the guys who, forgive me the desecrating but instructive example, consider homosexuality not as their nature, i.e. as a personal fundamental characteristic but as a kind of drug that is a bad thing in itself but that can be taken in the end, in small doses, because it is taken for granted that one can come out of it when and how one wants.

Homosexuality has nothing negative and it is not a habit that leads to addiction, such as the use of drugs but it is a reality about which it makes no sense to say: “I go out of it when I want” because being gay is not a choice. The idea coming from a religious matrix of the homosexuality as a vice that if rooted leads to an addiction, that is to a vice no longer eradicable, is still widespread and continues to produce incalculable damages, inducing gays to marriage in the belief that, in the end, with an act of will, they can also choose to be straight.

The married gays know very well how much this wrong vision of things is deleterious. Very often, in socially backward reality in which homophobia dominates, children learn from an early age to see homosexuality as a disvalue, all traditional education presupposes the heterosexuality of guys and, where there are gay guys, who are eight percent of the guys and therefore are practically everywhere, causes them to repress any gay drive through feelings of guilt.

The Catholic Church still officially has attitudes that are substantially homophobic and, in substance even if not in words, incites hatred against homosexuals. With Pope Francis the tone, at the top, has changed, but eradicating homophobia from the Church is a something that seems to be destined for failure, admitted and not granted that someone really intends to attempt it.

The attitudes of the family are often backwarded and violently repressive. I invite those who have not seen it to see a very significant French film: “Juste une question d’amour” in which parents who embody two different attitudes have to face the homosexuality of the sons. When the repression of homosexuality is so strong as to induce the guys not only to eliminate external behaviors that may make people think of homosexuality but even to fight against their own homosexual instincts at a very private level by repressing spontaneous masturbation in a gay key, it becomes unfortunately possible and concrete the possibility that a guy can think not only of forcing himself not to be gay but even to be straight.

These are forms of profound violence that completely alter and I would say completely distort the affectivity and sexuality of a gay guy, who is encouraged to create a heterosexual relationships and to cultivate it by “imitating” the attitudes of other guys; in these cases the removal of homosexuality is seen as a moral merit and heterosexual sexuality is accepted as “medicine of homosexuality”.

Behind all this, the idea of sexuality as a vice and therefore as a fault is evident. On closer inspection, it is easy to understand that where very elementary and dogmatic conceptions of nature dominate, the complexity of reality is compressed into schemes derived from pure prejudices. To think that sexuality is aimed only at procreation is an assumption of principle that is systematically contradicted at the social level and in individual behavior.

The expression “against nature” has been and is still used systematically with regard to behaviors and to the same homosexual libido. Instead of knowing what variants of human sexuality are, it is much easier to consider them as deviations “against nature” or as acquired vices, or cultural choices, more or less induced from the outside. To consider homosexuality a vice rather than a variant of human sexuality means to base the whole approach to homosexuality on totally wrong grounds.

When a guy evaluates his homosexuality as a vice against which one must resist to return to true sexuality according to nature, in fact, he takes an attempt of self-repression that results in an attempt to avoid or contain masturbation, to escape from the occasions in which homosexual instincts can be more easily reawakened, to sublimate homosexuality in affectionate friendship, and, at the end, to choose of a way without return like marriage. I report here (with the consent of the author) an email I received.

“I am writing to you with great fear because I don’t know who you are, and the fact that you are gay embarrasses me. I’m 25 years old, I have distinctly felt an interest in guys for a few years, but I don’t feel repulsed by girls, now I have a girlfriend for a few months and all in all I feel quite at ease with her, she’s very sweet and she’s not obsessed with sex like some girls that I had before, we love each other, she is not at the top of my thoughts, I sometimes let myself go to pornography and in particular gay pornography, but with my girlfriend I think that a serious relationship could also be built. I want to say that if I work hard I can do without gay porn and even without masturbation for several days and I think if I had a family I could put all these things aside to dedicate myself to my family. I feel that I’m at a turning point, because if I wanted, I could arrive to the wedding and even in a short time and my girlfriend would be very happy and even our parents, and in the end, it would be good for me, but honestly for me it’s very hard to decide because then I could not go back. I would love to get married and do away with pornography once and for all. etc., but I’m afraid of doing the biggest stupid thing in my life. There is something that makes me reflect and it is the fact that I talk with my girlfriend about everything but I could not talk about my homosexual fantasies because I think that she wouldn’t really understand the meaning of such a thing, she’s fine with me, we pamper each other with a minimum of petting but she would never understand that for me there is something else, she is convinced that homosexuality is a vice that can be overcome with good will and perhaps with the help of a good psychologist. I too, years ago, tended to give for granted all these things but lately I started to think that things are much less easy than people make them look. I asked myself many questions about my future and what I really want. Recently I met a guy at the university and I started to look at him with interest, but not only for reasons of sex, as I did before, but to look at him with emotional interest, he made me feel tenderness, I wanted to stay next to him, there was also sex, but not just sex, and for the first time I began to think that for me a love story could be possible even with a guy and maybe even more with a guy than with a girl. I don’t know anything about the gay reality, which objectively scares me but I’m not at all sure that I want to give up my private and tiny gay world to go to a wedding that honestly scares me a little because in the end it could be a real trap. But now what have I to do? My girlfriend expects the wedding, like our parents and friends, etc. etc .. I think I need someone who forces me to admit things that I now see even by myself, even if then transforming the clarity of ideas that I’m gaining into concrete actions is really difficult.”

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ALWAYS OUR CHILDREN – USA BISHOPS AND HOMOSEXUALITY

On the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the United States, I read a document entitled “Always Our Children: : A Pastoral Message to Parents of Homosexual Children and Suggestions for Pastoral Ministers” worthy of special attention. It was my intention to translate the document into Italian and publish it “with due comment” on the Gay Project websites, both in Italian and in English. I translated all the text but I noticed that I’m not even allowed to partially reproduce it because it is copyrighted!

The copyright was born to prevent the commercial exploitation of a publication, but in this specific case, where it is not clear what the commercial interest to defend is, since it is a “pastoral” document, copyright obviously has another meaning, i.e. to prevent even the partial publication of the text and therefore its point by point comment by “unauthorized persons”, in essence the copyright here has only the sense of a censorship. I must point out that the Vatican’s official documents, which are of very greater importance, are not defended with expedients such as copyright and the Vatican honestly exposes itself to criticism, but the US Bishops’ Conference prefers to defend itself with means typical of commercial law!

I invite not only gays but all people who have a civil conscience to read this document (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/h…ildren.cfm).

I cannot mention the content for copyright reasons, I will limit myself to the impressions I had during the reading of the text.
I note that the text has been copyrighted on 1997, at the time of John Paul II, or rather of Saint John Paul II. The bishops present a non-fraternal but “pastoral” approach in the sense that there is no common research of the truth but there are the pastors who are kindly concerned with the lost sheep. Communication is one-way, from top to bottom, from the bishops to the faithful.

The discourse on homosexuality is dealt with by insisting very formally on acceptance and respect but by reiterating the teaching of the Church, that is, essentially, radically refusing to open eyes on reality. Galileo also claimed that it is not the sun that turns around the earth but the earth that turns around the sun and was condemned by the Inquisition on the basis of the teachings of the Church, teachings that had nothing evangelical, as Church teachings on Homosexuality have nothing evangelical.

I have cited hundreds of times fundamental documents on this matter of the World Health Organization, but the Church doesn’t want to consider “reality”, which has nothing to do with what the Church itself preaches about homosexuality. It is possible to make a mistake, but insisting in error avoiding any form of comparison means that the other are considered a reality of lower category, to be pitied, to be guided, people whom you must pretend to respect without trying to understand what they think, which is considered wrong a priori.

Then there is another thing that has struck me very much, the document is directed essentially not to gays, but to parents of gay sons and to those who exercise pastoral functions, it is said that the use of conversion therapies “is not mandatory” and it should be accepted voluntarily and also that it is not said that it can solves the problem, but Catholic parents are advised to look for specialists who follow the Catholic doctrine, and this is in itself very significant.

On the one hand the document underlines that a gay son is still a son (because many Catholics had evidently been led to think otherwise!), but for the other it recognizes that a parent can well be upset by a terrible event like realizing to have a gay son, it is recommended that the parent address the community, the parish, the diocese, the associations of parents of gay sons, etc. etc.. But I wondered if the Church had ever realized that the Church itself continues even now to spread false and homophobic messages that have fueled and continue to fuel hatred against gays.

On the subject of suicide it is said that homosexuality can lead to suicide but in reality it is not homosexuality that leads to suicide but the climate of witch-hunting about homosexuality, fueled by those who, under the gentle and paternal appearance of the shepherd, spread hatred. This was the church of Saint John Paul II but it was also the church of Benedict XVI and unfortunately it is still the church of Pope Francis.

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A TRUE STORY OF A GAY PRIEST

Newspapers write many times stories of gay priests and gay prelates who give themselves to the good life taking advantage of their prestige and their social position and combining meetings with male prostitutes or with guys who for some reason cannot subtract themselves. Although managing a gay site for years and despite having met several times priests and religious through that site, I must say that what I saw is completely different from what can be read in the newspapers. For the sake of honesty and with the consent of the person of whom I speak, which unfortunately is no more alive, I would like to tell here the true story of a gay priest I met through the chat. I think it is proper to make people understand the real extent of the problem, which is not in the scandalous behavior of someone, scandalous especially for the gays themselves as well as of course for the Church, but in the deep suffering of many, according to what I can see, of  the great majority of gay priests. 
 
Several years ago, I was in chat with a priest who was fifty years old at the time. The dialogue between us was characterized, at the beginning, by a certain mutual distrust. It seemed strange to me to be contact by a priest, it was a rather rare event and I thought it could be the usual fake that needs to have fun abusing a gay chat (and unfortunately there are several fake), then, over the weeks dialogue between us became particularly serious, I will quote below some passages (I call the priest who speaks to me Paul, fictitious name, I’m project):
 
Paul writes: Don’t be surprised, project, there are many  gay priests but I really feel a priest, I cannot tell you if when I made the choice to enter the seminary, it was really my vocation or under what seemed my vocation there was the inability to be what I was or maybe the desire to spend my life anyway for my neighbor, doing something good, since I could not live as I wanted. I grew up in the parish environment and I felt it as my natural environment starting as a child. Faith for me was always a great value, of course I understood that there was a contrast between my faith and what I was and when I made my choice I consciously chose to put aside what I was and to follow the Lord because I hoped to find some consolation too. When you’re young you react emotionally and you don’t know that over time many things change and that making choices that are “forever” is much more difficult than it seems.
I have had several parishes, now I’m at [omissis], it‘s a nice place and it’s good people, almost all old, there’s so much misery but above all economic, there’s no moral misery, there’s no criminality, there’s no violence, there is no drug, they do not cheat the neighbor and there is also a lot of dignity even if they are poor and perhaps exactly because of their being poor, that dignity that I don’t have or I no longer have because sometimes I feel like the wrong man in the wrong place. 
The parishioners love me and I love them, many are farmers but they are really good people. But I feel in the wrong place because in a sense I’m lying to them, but I don’t even know if things are just like that. I thought that maybe I should leave the Church because I’m not worthy to be there but it’s an idea that scares me, I don’t think I could live if I had to leave the Church and then I would feel a traitor to things in which, despite everything, I believe deeply.
When I can pray, I have the feeling that the Lord is near me and helps me to move forward. Understand me well, I have never betrayed my vows but not only, when I happened to come into contact with young men I always behaved like a priest must behave and then it was not even a sacrifice because those people for me were sacred, I tell you as if in confession, if I had put in trouble one of those guys I would have felt as a worm.
The result of all this was that I have always avoided contacts with young men and boys, who might need a real priest. I put in the first place above all poor, old and sick people. When I happened to witness those who were dying I prayed with a very strong intensity that God could help them by giving them so much faith to face the moment of the passing. In those moments I had no doubts and I felt I was a priest in the most beautiful and profound sense because I was bringing the Lord to people who needed comfort.
But sometimes I really think that I should leave the Church because so many things I have to say are things that I don’t really feel, I have tried to follow the teaching of the Church but sometimes it seems to me in full consciousness of not being able to adhere to those things.
 
Project writes: But if you left the Church, what prospects would you have?
 
Paul writes: In practice none, I don’t have a qualification that can serve in civil life, I don’t know how to survive I don’t know how to do anything, I can only be a priest and certainly I’m not a good priest and I go on like that because for my family it would be destructive and unexpected if I came out of the church.
My mother and my father are old, they are happy with the idea of having a son priest, for them to have a misguided son would be terrible and then my parents live with a very small pension and even if they want to help me, because I think they wouldn’t abandon me anyway, they can’t feed me too.
Then if I think of the idea of having a partner, well it’s just tragic. But who would put himself with a 50-year-old ex-priest who dies of hunger? Nobody at all and I wouldn’t go with anyone, apart from the fact that I’m old my parents would still feel me distant because I now come from an environment a very different from theirs.  And then that world has not only been mine but it is still now and it would still remain so if I left the church. It is not only the fear of the outside that doesn’t make me take a step like that, but it is also the fact that the Church is my real world, a world in which I feel useful. When someone comes to confession, something very rare apart from the old ladies who should be sanctified because they are incapable of doing anything wrong, when someone comes to confession, I always ask him/her to pray for me because sometimes I don’t know how to manage my relationship with the Lord, I cannot understand what He wants from me. In fact I know very well that I have no choices and that I can only go on like now and over the years I will perhaps end up putting aside even the doubts that still exist, but I wonder why the Lord asks me such a big sacrifice, I mean big for me because there are people who bear much worst things with so much faith, it is not that I want who knows what, but it is this state of dissatisfaction that I feel inside that overwhelms me, I wonder not how it is possible that the Lord wants me priest, but how is it possible that He wants a priest like me, with this half faith, with all these ifs and buts. Sometimes I think I’m not a priest but that I “act” as a priest a bit like any other job and then I think I’m cheating on the Lord.
 
The dialogue with Paul went on for several months, even if with long intervals, and the relationship of esteem and mutual respect has consolidated. One day he told me that he was not well and that he would have to make some investigations, he made them and it resulted that he had an advanced tumor. He was operated. After the surgery, which failed to stem the problem but weakened even more his body, he called me for the last time. The conversation was very short.
 
Paul writes: it went wrong, they told me that I will only do palliative care. You remember, we thought the problem was one and instead the real problem was another. I am very tired, I go to rest, I ask you only one thing: pray for me.
 
Project writes: I will certainly do it. A big hug.
 
Paul writes: You have done a lot for me. Hello Friend.
 
This was our last chat conversation. I can say that I keep inside me the memory of this priest and his suffering humanity, that’s why when I hear about gay priests in a scandalistic way I get angry, what I saw in these people is neither stupidity nor arrogance but silent suffering and torn conscience. The topic of gay priests should be treated with the utmost respect and I say this as a deeply lay person.
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A GAY GUY SAVED FROM REPARATIVE THERAPIES

Im 31 years old and, after a long struggle with myself, I started to live again, I have been destroying myself for several years and I think I have found happiness just a couple of years ago. I often hear people exalting family as if it were a beautiful thing, that is, as if it were the ideal place for a boy to grow up serenely but for me, and I’m only realizing it now, the family has been a terrible place. From outside my family seems a family like many others, a father who has a good job (very good), a mother who worked but then left the job after my birth to devote herself completely to me (unfortunately she did!). Both my parents are of a good cultural level. 
 
I have no memories of any of my grandparents, but I think that my grandparents have been the ruin of my parents, just as my parents have been my ruin and maybe even worse. Both my father and my mother are only children exactly like me. I have never once seen my father and mother exchange a gesture of tenderness so as I have never seen my father tired or unkempt or my mother not perfectly settled. My mother has always been a freak of order, cleanliness, etc. etc. … The fundamental value that has always dominated my family is social prestige. My parents are wealthy, we can say it, but they are not rich in the true sense of the word, certainly, for them, not feeling up to their world would be a great suffering. I grew up being alone or with people much older than me.
 
The school was an obsession for me since elementary school, I couldn’t be the second in my class, I had to be the first one and this cost me a lot. My mother sometimes asked me questions, questions like those the teacher asks at school, just to see if I was able to answer. My parents were very attached to the church, today I think it was more for reasons of opportunity and politics than for religion itself. In particular since I was seven or eight years old I often saw a priest in my house who could have been about forty years old, I will call him Don Luigi here. Today I say a “prete”, but then I said “sacerdote” [the two words mean “priest” but while “prete” in a common word, “sacerdote” is the official word, used by the Church itself ], because my mother was convinced that, under the word priest, said by me, there could be something quite derogatory. He was an important priest, very respected and then he struck me because he was a bit my father’s ecclesiastical version: short hair like Germans, perfect clergyman, always perfectly ironed, shiny shoes, etc. …
 
I understood only many years later how much this priest has influenced my life since I was very young. It was Don Luigi who, in practice, decided that I had to attend elementary school in an institute of nuns, but I don’t have a bad memory of the school or of the nuns, except for the fact that the environment was almost military and the study was really a torment for me. But that school had two big flaws that I didn’t see at the time, in the first place it was totally out of the world, that is it was all muffled, muted, the children grew up and didn’t realize they lived in a world completely separate from reality and then there was the fact that the children were addressed to religion beginning from 6-7 years old with a substantial brainwashing of which they could not absolutely realize the consequences because they lacked any possibility of comparison with the lives of other boys.
 
At seven years old the sisters prepared us for the first confession, but a seven-year-old boy has very little to confess, so I assimilated all external attitudes; clasped hands, kneeling, reciting penance, etc. etc., What the priest told me in confession at that age was always that I had to obey my father and my mother like I had to obey Jesus, who loves us if we do what he commands us.
 
Toward the end of the fifth grade I made my first communion, but I still didn’t understand anything about what I was doing. The sisters taught us catechism and I studied it like any school subject and I was also proud to know why God had created the world, etc. etc. … The choice of middle school, even this in a religious institution, was warmly sponsored by Don Luigi who said that for me a “serious school” was needed, serious for him was the same as religious, that would prepare me well for what life would have presented to me, implying that the public school was a very bad environment in which I could only have ruined myself. In the seventh and eighth grade the environment was quite similar to that of the nuns, even though there were no nuns but priests. The school sometimes, I would say quite frequently, organized a camping or a stay in the country for three days and I liked it a lot. They called them “retreats” and were used to prepare for the confirmation I received at age 12.
 
My life was completely quiet, confession and communion every Sunday, which for me was a obvious but also very mechanical thing, for the rest I had to study and to try to be the first in the class, at home I had to obey dad and mom, that was all.
 
Then, suddenly, at the beginning of the eighth grade, my world of child safety goes into crisis. One night, for the first time I have a wet dream and I remember perfectly that I had dreamed that I was spying on one of my classmates in the shower, or rather, before he undressed to get a shower, when I imagined that his underwear was down I had my first orgasm. The dream, I still remember, was really exciting and the physical sensation of my first orgasm was very intense and even the impression, vaguely embarrassing, that I felt later, feeling all wet and sticky, was very strong. I didn’t know what had happened because I knew why God had created the world but didn’t know that sexuality existed, or at least I couldn’t connect what had happened to me with that minimum of concepts about sex that I had been able to steal from the external world, in practice only from TV because the internet in my house had never existed except as a working tool for dad.
 
In short, it was the first time I felt embarrassed for sexuality. I didn’t know what to do: talk with dad or with mom? And then tell them everything? Even that I dreamed of spying on a friend of mine and of seeing him naked? Or would I have to go immediately to confess because dreaming of such a thing is surely not a good thing? And then what was all that sticky substance that I had found on myself. I decided to avoid my mother, because I thought she would not understand, I went to talk to my father who immediately understood what had happened, but I didn’t tell him that I had dreamed of seeing a naked boy. He told me that now I was growing up and that what had happened was the awakening of my sexuality and that it was not a dangerous thing but in order to have a serious advice on how I would have to deal with these things I had to talk to the priest.
 
I understood only many years after the absurdity of a similar speech, at that time the answer seemed to me clear and comprehensive. I went to confession in the afternoon with a priest I didn’t know because I was very ashamed, I found an old man who told me that those things are useful when you get married and have children and that until then you have to maintain purity, that is you have to preserve absolutely a gift so great that can make you a collaborator of God in spreading the gift of life. Then I told him, almost as if it were a banality, what I had dreamed of and he stopped and told me: “This is a serious sin because men are made for women and women for men”, and added that I had to pray much for Jesus to make me return to the right path, etc. etc., then he gave me the absolution. For me it was a tremendous shock. What had I done wrong? I really could not understand it.
 
However, I decided not to say anything to my father about what had happened in confession and to commit myself to the maximum so as not to think any more about those things that I had been said were a serious sin. Since then, maybe I was still 12 years old or I had just turned 13, my life became a continuous struggle against myself. I discovered masturbation after a few days, but with serious feelings of guilt and with even greater guilt feelings, I continued in my gay sexual fantasies. I went to confession every Sunday with a different priest telling him just that I had masturbated because for me the sin was that. From the priests I heard things of all the colors, always on the negative, clearly, but with many different degrees of negativity.
 
After the intermediate school, my fate was marked, and for the intervention of Don Luigi I ended up for the third time in a religious school, always of priests, like the middle school, even if of another order, there is no need to say that I was sent to the classic high school, the thing was obvious a priori. A mixed class with a predominance of girls, however, the guys were a dozen, not very few. Of course I had attended also elementary and intermediate school in mixed classes of boys and girls together, at the time such a thing seemed quite secondary to me, but entering the ninth grade I saw things in another way, that is I had begun to look at the boys, clearly with the maximum circumspection and with a thousand scruples of conscience, but I had begun to look at them. I knew I should not have looked at them but I couldn’t not help looking at them.
 
At school there was very little to do, surveillance was very strict and at most you could have seen smiles between a boy and a girl and also this with a lot of sense of limit. In practice, I experienced anguish all the years of gymnasium-Lyceum, not for school, where I was definitely not the first, with great disappointment of my mother, but for sex. Attempts to repress me have been really absurd because when I entered the Gymnasium I received as a gift my first computer and my first internet access with the warning on the part of my parents that “this must be switched on only for school and when we are at home”. But as the facts didn’t follow the words, I almost immediately started to go on the internet to look for gay photos and videos (which at that time were still few and very short). With internet the frequency of masturbation has increased exponentially, once a day and even more.
 
To this my very private sexual life corresponded the confessions in which I had begun to tell the priest that I had gay fantasies and in confession I was told by the priest and starting from the first time that in order to definitively solve this problem and to have a normal life one could resort to a psychologist, because there are very good psychologists who can help the boys to “get back on track”, I was then 16 years. That’s how I made the most absurd decision of my life, as if it were a heroic choice of which I had to feel proud: I would have gone to a psychologist to get out of this story of masturbation and homosexuality, but how? My parents should have known it. I thought to tell my parents that I didn’t sleep at night, that I felt very agitated and that I wanted to talk to a psychologist, in response I was told that Don Luigi was precisely a psychologist and that I could talk with him. Against such a proposal my refusal has been categorical. My mother tried to insist, I ended up convinced not to talk to Don Luigi but to contact a “serious psychologist” indicated by him. I knew that there was professional secrecy and I tended to trust.
 
After a few days I went to the first appointment with the psychologist, he must have been between 35 and 40 years, everything was very ritual, bed, notebook, low light, etc. etc., I was a little frightened, I told him of my problem: “compulsive masturbation and homosexuality, etc. etc.”. He tells me that a lot can be done but that my commitment must be total.
 
After the first sessions he makes me compile some tests and gives me a book to read about reparative therapies where there are terrible stories of homosexuals finished badly, I bring the book home and hide it because I don’t want my parents to find it, I read the book but it makes me sick, the psychologist tells me that my doctor should prescribe me anxiolytics but I don’t want to take medicines, then he sends me to a religious group that deals with these things and tells me that “operating on two fronts” things are much easier.
 
The group met in the evening, going there for me was an experience of a terrible self-inflicted violence. I resisted only the first two meetings, then I told the psychologist that I couldn’t take it anymore, he tries to insist on getting me back to the religious group saying it’s for my own good. But I had no intention of going back there, so he proposed a more gradual way …
 
In the meantime, I had practically stopped studying for school and I found myself with a debt in Greek that made my mother go on a rampage. I turn seventeen and I feel truly destroyed, a nothingness destined for failure. I spend a whole night crying, I cannot do it any more, I’m tired even of my live, I’m truly at the limit.
 
Talking to a classmate of mine, I come to know that she goes to a psychologist and that she is well with him. I tell my mother that I want to change the psychologist, she sees me right on the edge and does not object. I wait for the day of the first date.
 
The environment is Spartan, just reduced to the minimum, the psychologist is old, about sixty, white hair, sweater. We shake hands and he tells me to sit down in an armchair, he sits in a chair in front of me, I tell him my problem: “compulsive masturbation and homosexuality”, he asks me: “masturbation how often?” I tell him “Even once a day” that seemed to me very much, he smiles, opens his arms and says, “And with this? This is the norm!” I insist: “But with homosexual fantasies …” And he answers me:” So what? If one is gay it’s obvious that he thinks about guys and not about girls, these are normal things!” I told him: “I do not know what to do anymore, I can’t  go on, I’m just at the limit … “. Then he let me tell a little about my life and he told me: “We must simplify things, you don’t have to do the things that others tell you but what you want, you don’t have to live badly, because otherwise later you’ll have a thousand regrets, you’re a very young boy, a gay boy, so what? What’s the problem? The absurdity, for a gay guy, is to force himself to desire to be no longer gay or worse to commit to not being gay anymore! You must begin to become autonomous, to do what you think is right, the problem lies in the fact that you are worried for things that don’t concern you, for things that others want from you, but you must do only what you want. You will have problems because your family will not easily accept your freedom of doing what you want, but your autonomy you have to earn it day after day.”
 
When I got home I felt free, the feeling was very strange but I knew that the things that this psychologist had told me were basically those I didn’t have the courage to say to myself. It was not easy to build a real autonomy because actually my parents did everything to put me in trouble, and here the psychologist was really useful. Now I have a boyfriend for two years and I love him deeply, he also helped me a lot, he had an enormous patience with me. Now we live together! One day we were walking on the road and I told him: “Take me by the hand!” He looked at me questioningly as asking why, and I added: “There is Don Luigi!” And then he hugged me and kissed me in the street, that’s why I love him!
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CHURCH, FREEDOM AND SECULAR MORALITY

Secular morality is not a set of precepts and prohibitions, it is not a moral code destined to replace another moral code but it is a method that aims to guarantee coexistence, freedom and equality of individuals in social relationships, starting from the idea that freedom is the fundamental social value on which a society of free men must be founded and that the limitations of freedom are justifiable only in terms of the protection of the freedom of others. 
 
The secular morality has nothing to do with particular morals, it is not justified on the basis of any authority but derives from the free acceptance of its founding principle, i.e. the idea that freedom is the fundamental and unconditional right of everyone. In a secular view, on a social level, there are no true morals, according to nature or according to reason and there are no moral authorities, these concepts are typical of particular morals.
 
A secular morality is by its own nature relativistic in the sense that, if it is left to the individual the maximum freedom of conscience and full responsibility for his moral action, provided that one remains in the context of respect for the freedom of others, the choice of the individual is only his, cannot be normative for anyone and is not subject to the judgment of anyone. Relativism is a non-dogmatic and non-prejudicial view of morality, it is not a principle for which any moral code can be equally valid, it is rather a way of dealing with moral content and behavior with an eye to the only social aspect relevant, that is, to the dimension of freedom. Not every moral code or behavior can be admitted in a free society, that is in a secular society, but only the moral codes and behaviors that fully respect the freedom of others can be  accepted.
 
No preaching of discrimination, violence, homophobia or racial hatred, no a priori condemnation of facts or deriving from facts that are not objectively detrimental to the freedom of others, no privilege in any manner justified is compatible with a secular morality because these things are not respectful of freedom of others. No power to limit the freedom of other people, even within the same family, can morally be recognized to anyone for reasons other than those that the law recognizes on the basis of a collective objective interest. No mutilation (circumcision, infibulation) can be practiced for any reason on a minor. No imposition (to marry / not to marry, choice of spouse, choice of having children, choice to severely restrict pregnancies) can be imposed on anyone for any reason. These are just some examples of moral content absolutely incompatible with the freedom of all, which is the only value that a secular state must guarantee.
 
In a secular view of society, for all the conditions affecting the private sphere of individuals, must be guaranteed maximum freedom: adhere to a religion or abandon it freely without any prejudice, to join a political party and leave it freely without any prejudice, follow one’s own sexual orientation, marry or not get married, have or not have children, etc. ..
 
Some issues deserve clarification. Can Law allow restrictions of freedom such those characteristics of members of one or another religious confession (perpetual vows)? The answer is obviously yes, with the condition that from that religious confession you can go out freely, without any formality and without any prejudice. The temporary sacrifice of the freedom of the individual, consciously and freely wanted, doesn’t violate the freedom of that individual if the sacrifice can end in every moment, without formality and without damage, it is rather an exercise of individual freedom. On the other hand, it is not morally acceptable to allow a definitive and irreversible choice, such as that of pronouncing perpetual vows, definitively renouncing some of one’s own rights, without the possibility of going back when the need of it is felt. The renunciations to freedom cannot be admitted if irrevocable.
 
Does this mean that it is not possible to pronounce perpetual vows renouncing definitively some of one’s own rights? No. This only means that the law cannot continue to attach legal value to acts performed as a result of the vows if they are revoked. If a person pronounces the vows and as a result of the vows his assets pass to others, the revocation of the vows must determine, by law, the return of the assets in the sphere of the originary owner. This means that the property transferred following the pronounce of the vows must remain inalienable as long as the person who pronounced the vows is alive and that until then only the right of usufruct is transferred temporarily. If not so if the renounce of vows would become an act of potentially highly restriction of individual freedom in the future, which is morally unacceptable, that is, it would be a trap from which it is impossible to escape except by serious harm.
 
The legislation of a secular state cannot enter into questions relating to the private moral sphere of the individual except to ensure that the behaviors resulting from individual convictions are in any case compatible with the freedom of others. The legislation of a secular state must completely ignore individual morals and must be limited to guaranteeing the freedom of all. The rules must be essential, must not have moralizing purposes but must be a general guarantee of freedom. Precisely because the law cannot enter into moral issues, no conscientious objection can be admitted, because the restrictions on the freedom of individuals imposed by the law are aimed exclusively at protecting the freedom of all and therefore conscientious objection would be in fact, a limitation of the freedom of others, which is the fundamental value against which, in a secular society, no objection can be admitted.
 
Whoever does not accept this principle can come out of the secular society, from which he doesn’t feel represented, and adhere to systems that subordinate freedom to other values. In a secular state the external signs of a religious, political or any other belonging are not allowed in public places, obviously they are always legitimate in private places or open to the public. A secular state doesn’t sign agreements with any religious confession for any reason and doesn’t enter at any level in matters related to religion or individual morality, it must instead actively protect the freedom to adhere to all confessions and to withdraw without any conditions and without any damage.
 
The principle of state secularism manifests itself in a peculiar way in avoiding any overlap between the concept of crime, which is a legal concept, and the concept of sin, which is a moral concept. Crimes are repressed and punished by a secular society because they violate the sphere of freedom of others by depriving others of their rights. The punishment of a crime is not a consequence of any moral prescription but is motivated by profound social reasons related to freedom and equality. The typical example of crime is the murder.
 
Sins are violations of a particular moral code to which a value of sacred origin is attached to the individual or religious level. The typical example of sin is the violation of the commandment “Don’t desire the woman of others” that condemns even the desire, that is, something that in itself is not in any way detrimental to the freedom of others and therefore not only is not a crime but belongs to the freedom of the individual and is completely indifferent to the community.
 
No one is allowed to forgive a crime, not even to the victim of the same crime, because a crime is an aggressive behavior towards the basic principles of social life, so one cannot be forgiven or absolved by one’s own crimes by any reason. One can instead be forgiven or absolved by sins in the name of the authority that has set the particular moral principle that has been violated. Obviously these are realities that have nothing in common. The category of crime is valid for all the members of a secular society, that of sin is valid exclusively for persons who adhere to a particular religious confession and to its particular morality.
 
The reflections so far made on the idea of freedom as the foundation of civil life and on the distinction between crime and sin are masterly summarized by Gaetano Salvemini [Letter from America 1947-1949 (epistolary with Ernesto Rossi)]: “Everyone in Italy seems to have forgot that freedom is not my freedom, but the freedom of those who don’t think like me. A clerical person will never understand this point, neither in Italy, nor in any other country in the world. The clerical will never come to understand the distinction between sin and crime, between what someone believes to be sinful and what the secular law has the duty to condemn as a crime. The clerical punishes the sin as if it were a crime and forgives the crime as if it were a sin. The clerical has never left the atmosphere of the 10 commandments, in which stealing and killing (crimes) are put on the same level as the desire of the woman of others (sin).”
 
An extremely delicate issue is religious freedom, on which the attention of Pope Benedict XVI focused in particular in the Discourse to the Diplomatic Corps on Monday, 10 January 2011: “are not there many situations in which, unfortunately, the right to religious freedom is harmed or denied? This human right, which in reality is the first of the rights, because, historically, it has been affirmed first, and, on the other hand, has as its object the constitutive dimension of man, that is, its relationship with the Creator, is perhaps not too often questioned or violated? It seems to me that society, its leaders and public opinion are more aware today, even if not always exactly, of this serious wound inflicted against the dignity and freedom of the “homo religiosus” [religious man], on which I wanted, many times to attract everyone’s attention “. “Christians are original and authentic citizens, loyal to their homeland and faithful to all their national duties. It is natural that they can enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience and worship, freedom in the field of teaching and education and in the use of the media”. “Moving our gaze from the East to the West, we are faced with other types of threats against the full exercise of religious freedom. I think, in the first place, of countries in which great importance is accorded to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is subject to growing marginalization. People tend to consider religion, every religion, as an unimportant factor, alien to modern society or even destabilizing, and they try with various means to prevent any influence of it in social life.
 
Thus people arrive to demand that Christians act in the exercise of their profession without reference to their religious and moral convictions, and even in contradiction with them, as, for example, where laws are in force that limit the right to conscientious objection of health workers or of certain legal operators “. “Continuing my reflection, I cannot pass over in silence another threat to the religious freedom of families in some European countries, where it is imposed the participation in courses of sexual or civil education that transmit conceptions of the person and life presumed neutral, but which in reality reflect an anthropology contrary to faith and right reason “.
 
If we analyze the concept of religious freedom as it emerges from the words of Benedict XVI, we can note that the right to religious freedom is considered “the first of rights” but, as clarified by Salvemini, it is neither Freedom without adjectives nor religious freedom, laically understood, in other words, the equal freedom of all religions, but rather the freedom to be Catholics, it should be emphasized that the freedom of conscience and of worship, freedom in the field of teaching, education and use of the means of communication  are claimed for the Catholics. In reality, these are very delicate freedoms because the recognition of total freedom of conscience involves in practice recognizing the right of the Catholics not to obey the law when their conscience, in this case the particular moral code of their religious confession, is in contrast with the law, that means to guarantee the primacy of a particular confessional morality on the law.
 
I remember that Benedict XVI himself urged Catholics to commit themselves to preventing access to teaching to homosexuals and to feel engaged in fighting against the approval of the legal recognition of homosexual unions. If particularistic morals of the individual religious confessions were entitled decision on matters that affect all the population, freedom would be quietly subjected to principles incompatible with the exercise of the freedom of all. But the Pope demands full freedom of action also on the level of teaching, education and the media, areas in which the state cannot and should not delegate anything to anyone.
 
Confessional education can under no circumstances replace a lay and pluralist education. Educating means first of all providing non-prejudicial views of reality, it means putting people in contact with reality so that they can learn and judge for themselves by overcoming prejudices. Precisely because education has an enormous value in the formation of the person, it must take place in a pluralist context, and in this sense lay, in which the fundamental rule is the confrontation with reality beyond the ideologies and the prejudices of value.
 
It is significant that the Pope considers the obligation of participation in courses in sexual or civil education to be an attack on religious freedom, mind you, not of people but of families, because it is through sexual confessional education that religions perpetuate their power, preventing in fact children’s access to secular or otherwise different views of sexuality. A completely similar reasoning applies to the mass media. It is up to the state the primary task of the fight against ignorance and subcultures, against the superficiality and the absence of critical spirit. In this context religious confessions have freedom of expression but in no case can an education uniformly permeated of values of a confessional type can be allowed, such an education would constitute a real brainwashing and an attack on individual liberty in the name of religious freedom. Kids who are growing must be able to compare different messages and different interpretations of reality to form their own point of view. It should be emphasized that freedom of religion cannot become the freedom to create structures of power that are alternative to those with institutional aims and ways of proceeding that are not respectful of the freedom of others and that to the freedom of religion corresponds a secular freedom of criticism of religious confessions that cannot enjoy special protections or immunities, such as, in a truly secular society, no particular group can enjoy such benefits.
 
The Constitution of the French Republic, which came into force in 1958, begins as follows: Article 1 – France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social republic. It ensures equality before the law to all citizens without distinction of origin, race or religion. It respects all beliefs. Its organization is decentralized.”  As can be seen, the secular nature of the state is explicitly stated in art. 1 of the Constitution. In the Italian Constitution, laicity is never named, and article 7 constitutionalizes the Concordat with the Holy See: Article 7 – “The State and the Catholic Church are, each in its own order, independent and sovereign. Their relations are regulated by the Lateran Pacts. The modifications of the Pacts accepted by the two parties don’t require a constitutional revision procedure.”
 
The Constitutional Court has been working to recognize in an interpretative way a principle of laicity of the state in whose name the state ends up limiting its own de facto sovereignty even in realities that are objectively very far from secularism. For a careful examination of the issue refer to the essay “The principle of secularism in the Italian and European constitution” 
[http://rivista.ssef.it/site.php?Page=20050502135352251&edition=2010-02-01].
 
I conclude with a quote. So Ernesto Rossi writes about himself: “I belong to the very small group of those who still believe it is the duty of every civilized man to take the defense of the secular State against the interference of the Church in Parliament, in school, in the public administration, and believe that in our country, this is more important than any other goal – political, legal or economic – since its attainment would be the indispensable premise for any serious structural reform.” [E. Rossi, from “Il sillabo e dopo”]
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