Rorate Caeli

De Mattei - Forty years against life: from abortion to euthanasia (1978-2017)

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
December 20, 2017


The Renzi-Gentiloni governments will go down in history as those that imposed two of the most wicked laws in the Italian Republic: pseudo-homosexual-marriage, called “Civil Unions” (May 20th 2016) and euthanasia, under the name of the “living will" or DAT (Dichiarazione anticipata di trattamento [Declaration Advance of Treatment]), approved definitively by the Senate on December 14th 2017. This law will be registered in the Official Journal on the fortieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion, which  passed on May 221978 with Law 194.  Thus the circle closes.

Forty years of aggression against life and the family between abortion and euthanasia, with civil unions and quick divorce along the way. It should be remembered that the law which introduced abortion was signed by Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, and Giovanni Leone, the President of the Republic, both Christian Democrats. The euthanasia bill will be signed by a Catholic Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, and by Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic also a Catholic and former Christian-Democrat parliamentarian.

Neither of them will feel the need to appeal to conscientious objection which “La Piccola Casa Della Divina Provvidenza” better known as Cottolengo, had the courage to do: “We – Don Carmine Arice, the Superior General of the historical institute in Turin stated – cannot carry out practices that go against the Gospel, even if the possibility of conscientious objection is not provided by the law: Marco Cappato who accompanied  people seeking assisted suicide, was taken to court, so we too will go there, in the event of a possible conflict between the law and the Gospel; we must choose the Gospel.” Don Arice continued by explaining that “faced with a request to die, our structure cannot respond positively. At present, objection of conscience is not provided for private health institutions.  Nonetheless, I believe that in conscience we cannot respond positively to a request for [assisted]death: therefore, we will abstain with all the consequences that this implies” ( La Stampa, December 15th , 2017).

A second betrayal has been added to that of the Catholic politicians who approved the law.

In 1978, after the approval of abortion, the Movement for Life came into existence, promoted by the Italian Episcopal Conference. Officially its aim was that of giving a voice in defense of [pre-born] life in Italy.  In actual fact the real role the bishops gave to it was that of impeding the birth of an anti-abortion movement similar to the one formed in the United States and other countries. This has appeared clear since 1981, when the Movement for Life promoted an abrogative referendum to modify Law 194, wherein, however, the following was confirmed: the legalization of therapeutic abortion for the entire nine months of the pregnancy; public funding for the execution of abortions; the obligation of hospital entities to execute abortions in any case; the free distribution, on the part of consultants, of contraceptives including early abortions for minors. 

The referendum which took place on May 17th 1981 – and in which coherent Catholics could do nothing other than abstain – was a defeat for the Movement for Life. It was the beginning of the “lesser evil” strategy, which concession after concession, has brought us to the present disaster. “On the basis of this strategy – wrote Mario Palmaror in a unforgettable article for  La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, May 1st 2013 – the Catholics in politics – and the information and formation entities supporting them –can no longer “limit themselves” (sic) by  affirming the non-negotiable principles in opposition to the legislative initiatives which deny them, but must assume a legislative initiative by promoting laws that affirm those principles only in part, but which impede the approval of worse laws. […]  One might at least ask though –  will this “doctrine of the of the lesser evil” really obtain  results? Yes, it will:  disastrous ones.” 

Francesco Agnoli wasn’t wrong then when he brought the ambiguities and compromises of the Movement for Life to light (A History of the Movement for Life. From heroism to concessions, 2010) and especially [those of] Carlo Casini, who was its president for twenty-five years, until 2015, when Gian Luigi Gigli succeeded him. Casini was a Christian Democrat parliamentarian in Italy and Europe for thirty years; since 2009 Gigli has been in the people’s-Christian Democratic party which has sustained the Monti, Letta, Renzi and Gentiloni governments.

How can we imagine a free and independent action on the part of public figures subject simultaneously to two powers? That of the respective parties they belong to and that of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, thanks to whose significant funding the Movement for Life is prospering (and dying). Furthermore, if the Movement for Life, which should have stirred up the public square, posed no resistance whatsoever to the “living will”, how to ignore the responsibility of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and especially its secretary, Monsignor Nunzio Galantino, who see the main enemy not in euthanasia, but in “unnecessary life-sustaining medical treatment”, and hopes “that someone begins to realize the Church is less bigoted than what is thought”(Avvenire, November 18th 2017)?

The Archbishop of Trieste, Giampaolo Crepaldi, one of the few prelates who openly, publicly condemned the law, underlined the climate of indifference in which the “living will” was approved, particularly in the Catholic world: “Large components [of  this Catholic world] have avoided the commitment in defense of fundamental values for the dignity of the person; fearful perhaps, in this way, of creating walls, rather than bridges. However, bridges not built on the truth will not stand up.

The Vatican reporter, Giuseppe Rusconi, commenting on Monsignor Crepaldi’s words recalls: “the grave responsibilities of the Catholic hierarchy which has shown widespread public indifference towards such an ill-omened bill, for the dignity of the human person, a stance in total contrast to the social doctrine of the Church. Grave are the responsibilities of a large part of so-called Italian press agencies, with “Avvenire”  at the top of the list and which immediately raised a white flag - even if they hid behind some apparently quasi-combative headlines,” ( 15 December 2017).

Avvenire depends on the Italian Episcopal Conference, whose secretary, Monsignor Galantino, is one of the Pope’s right hand men.  Further, Pope Francis’ words on the end of life to the Pontifical Academy for Life on November 19th, were interpreted by everyone as an “open door” to the form of euthanasia which the ‘living will’ represents. Necessary words, writes Corrado Augias, “to bring down the ultimate resistance of some Catholics and – probably – convince at least part of them into giving their assent” (Repubblica, December 16th 2017). To the question whether the Pope’s words had been an opening for the law on the end of life Monsignor Galantino replied: I’m not a politician but I hope the politicians will do their duty, not only on this aspect” (Avvenire, cit.).

For that matter, whom do we have to appeal in order “to build bridges where walls are raised” (Audience of February25th 2017) if not to the reigning Pontiff”? The walls have been torn down and the bridges built: the result, as Monsignor Crepaldi stated, is that “a libertarian ideology has prevailed, ultimately nihilistic, expressed in the consciences of many parliamentarians. Thus, Italy is heading into a dark future based on a worn-out [idea of] freedom, devoid of hope.”

Along with Paolo Gentiloni and Matteo Renzi, Pope Francis and a large part of the Catholic world have taken upon themselves the moral responsibility of this law. Yet nothing that happens in history evades the judgment of God Who punishes those responsible for scandals in time and eternity. Only by remembering the Lord’s supreme justice, might we make appeal to His infinite mercy to spare us from the deserved punishments on our ill-fated nation.

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana