Bishops remain silent on Meloni's pro-life measures -Italy



In Italy, a new bill plans to cover the activities of pro-life associations in medical centers. It is a proposal that has provoked the ire of progressive circles, while the episcopate remains silent.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is currently under fire from those who accuse her of infringing on the “right” to abortion.

The government wishes to encourage the activity of pro-life associations in Italian healthcare centers. The 1978 law that allows abortion up to three months of pregnancy, requires that women first obtain a medical certificate issued either by an attending physician or from a family planning center.

However, the new bill currently being discussed in the Italian parliament, and which was passed at first reading by the lower house on April 17, 2024, would allow associations fighting against abortion to intervene directly in the centers which issue authorizations.

The Deputy Prime Minister, responsible for defusing the controversy, assures that the new measure is not intended to change “law 194” on the legalization of abortion. Antonio Tajani sees it rather as a lack of criminalization of “those who are against abortion.” And adds that “freedom of conscience” will “always be permitted on questions of this type.”

Unsurprisingly, this measure, which will be financed by the EU's post-Covid recovery fund (of which Italy is the largest beneficiary) was denounced by the progressive opposition. Marco Furfaro, deputy of the Democratic Party, deplores in the daily La Repubblica a “very serious” situation, which “represents a slap in the face for women, their rights, and their self-determination.”

But the Italian Church remains silent. While the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith recently denounced “a dangerous moral crisis in the acceptance of abortion in mentalities, customs, and the law itself,” it would have been normal for the Italian bishops come to the aid of the government, especially since Cardinal Pietro Parolin has just demonstrated his support “for all instruments that can help affirm the right to life.”

An article published April 18 in Il Quotidiano Nazionale suggests that the bishops' reluctance may be linked to tensions that exist between some of the country's main pro-life groups and the leadership of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), whose President is Cardinal Matteo Zuppi.

In fact, the Pro Vita e Famiglia group, which would be the first to benefit from the future law, is little appreciated under the current pontificate, which hardly enjoys the organization of silent “sit ins” around establishments where abortion is practiced, not to mention its vocal opposition to marriage for all.