Official portrait of Bishop Stephen Parkes, Diocese of Savannah
Saturday, January 30, 2016
RINGRAZIAMO I FEDELI ITALIANI INCORAGGIATO DAL PAPA FRANCESCO DI SOSTENERE IL MATRIMONIO AUTENTICO!
LET US THANK FAITHFUL ITALIANS ENCOURAGED BY POPE FRANCIS TO SUPPORT AUTHENTIC MARRIAGE
Rome hosts large rally against same-sex unions and gay adoption
By Isla Binnie and Crispian Balmer,Reuters
By Isla Binnie and Crispian Balmer
ROME (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Italians
staged a mass rally in Rome's Circus Maximus on Saturday to urge the
government to drop legislation that offers homosexual couples legal
recognition and limited adoption rights.
The much-contested bill was presented to parliament
last week and is due to be voted on in February, but the government
itself is deeply divided over the issue and opponents are hopeful they
can sink it, as they have done it the past.
Trains and buses ferried in protesters from around
Italy to take part in the event, staged in Ancient Rome's famed chariot
racing stadium. A group of black-clad Roman Catholic priests danced the
conga, while children rushed around the grassy arena.
"We want the whole law to be withdrawn, no ifs and
no buts," said one of the organizers, Simone Pillon, sporting a red bow
tie. He took particular offence at a clause in the law which would let
gays adopt the biological children of their partner.
Critics say this would encourage surrogacy, which is
outlawed in Italy. "We cannot let children pay for the desires or
caprices of adults. Children need to have a father and a mother," said
Showing how polarized the nation is, Saturday's
rally came a week after thousands of people took to the streets of Italy
to demand that the "civil union" bill, which relates to both homosexual
and heterosexual couples, be approved.
Organizers said they expected more than half a
million people would join the Circus Maximus rally, but official numbers
were not immediately available.
Italy is the last major country in Western Europe
that has not offered rights or recognition to same-sex couples and has
been criticized regularly by the European Court of Justice for failing
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised to pass a law
by the end of last year but has faced fiercer opposition over this from
within coalition ranks than any of his other reform plans.
Several government officials, including many from
the small New Centre Right party (NCD), took part in Saturday's
demonstration, while others cheered it on from the sidelines.
"I fully adhere to the aims of this gathering,"
Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who is also the head of the NCD,
wrote on Twitter, underscoring the difficulties Renzi faces in trying to
secure a majority in parliament.
Italy is a heavily Roman Catholic country and
although the church's influence has waned over the years, it remains a
formidable social force. The Italian Bishops Conference has come out
firmly against the bill and many of the banners on display had overt
A week ago Pope Francis issued a strong
reminder of the church's opposition to gay marriage, saying that the
traditional family was "the family God wants".
Some protesters echoed his view. "I am a
grandfather and this law goes against God and goes against the bible,"
said Franco Pantuso, 71, a retired waiter from the central city of
L'Aquila who had came to Rome especially. "Our children and
grandchildren must be protected."
Latest opinion polls say that 70 percent of
Italians believe that same sex couples should be granted legal
protection, such as inheritance rights. However, only some 24 percent
think that any adoption rights should be granted to gay couples.
(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Stephen Powell)