Yesterday [Saturday, January 11, 2014], there was a public demonstration in the Piazza Santi Apostoli led by “Manif pour Tous—Italia”*, in defense of the natural family and against the approval of a law concerning homophobia, now in discussion in the Parliament. The purpose of the demonstration (just like those in the past organized in the whole of Italy) is to safeguard freedom of thought and opinion (Article 21 in the Italian Constitution), and to safeguard the natural family, of which the Constitution speaks in Articles 29, 30 and 32, based on marriage between a man and a woman.
As always, we were present and helped with the organization. The demonstration was marked by a great number of families, a great number of young people, and also priests. But as the jounrnalist, Marco Tosatte, sagely commented on his blog on “La Stampa”, of all Bishops, Archbishops and Cardinals that fill the city of Rome, there was only one who was present at the demonstration: the American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke.
Yes, you understood correctly. That Cardinal who has been criticized so much because he is a lover of tradition and of beautiful liturgy, deeply held personal positions that today seem to be seen as something negative, to be thrown out and condemned. Meanwhile, the only one present, the only one to make the support of the Church felt, the only one to give moral support in a battle on principles that are non-negotiable, being fought for by laity who are vigorously leading the battle against oppression of the spirit and of freedom of expression—the only one was Cardinal Burke.
At this point permit me a historical digression that offers a parallel to this situation. We go back in memory exactly thirty years, in 1984, when another great Cardinal, Giuseppe Siri, gave an interview to Msgr. Virgilio Levi for the weekly magazine, Oggi. On this occasion Msgr. Levi asked the Cardinal the following question in a provocative way: “Your Eminence, why do you parade around in a pectoral cross made of gold and precious gems, when nearly all bishops at this time have restricted themselves to a simple cross of silver, metal or wood?” The answer, quite lucid, was as follows: “I do not parade around with this cross. I wear it. First of all because I am not a hypocrite. I have seen wooden pectoral crosses encrusted with gems on the back facing the cassock. What is the sense of that? Secondly, because this cross was given to me as a gift when I was consecrated a bishop by the emigrants from Liguria living in Argentina, who number about 5 million, exactly twice those in their Motherland, and in wearing this cross I honor them, and I remember them. Thirdly, because poverty is not about these things. Finally, because I was praised by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, who, on the occasion of my trip to Russia recognized the honesty of a man who dared to visit that country wearing clerical dress and the signs of his rank without hiding them.”
Now we could write a long comment about this, but we are firmly convinced that it is not necessary, intelligenti pauca.
In the anomalous current trend to avoid clear positions on anything and to play down even the memory of the rituals associated with the Church in favor of dramatic, dialectical, and combative statements about poverty, no one finds the time to go down into the street and give living witness as asked for by the Pope in a loud voice during the Chrism Mass of March 28, 2013. The words of Pope Frances echo in our hearts: “…I ask this of you: be pastors who smell of the ‘smell of your sheep’. May you hear these words!” To this we say: Would that these words were heard! Would that these pastors were seen!
And we today have seen and heard only Cardinal Burke, a true pastor down among his sheep.
*Manif por tous-Italia is the fledgling Italian version of the French Manif pour tous, "Protest for all" (inspired by the French government's euphemism for homosexual "marriage", mariage pour tous) that filled French streets with millions of pro-family demonstrators in 2013. We first reported on the French version here.