Buttiglione Case and the Limits of Diversity

Interview With Vice President of Convention of Christians for Europe

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ROME, OCT. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The rejection of candidature of European Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione by the Europarliament’s Civil Liberties Committee raises questions about respect for diversity in Europe.

Buttiglione voiced his Catholic convictions about homosexuality, and came under attack for it.

In this interview with ZENIT, Giorgio Salina, vice president of the Convention of Christians for Europe, gave his view on the controversy.

Q: In Spain there are those who are seeking the recognition of homosexual marriages and the adoption of children by gay people; in France, a priest has been expelled from his institute for wearing his cassock in class; in Brussels, Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione is discriminated against because he said that the family is made up of a man and a woman. What is happening in Europe? Has the hunt for Catholics begun?

Salina: I think it is a particularly serious time because what has happened is grave. Buttiglione did not say anything that could be a reason for such intolerant reactions.

What is becoming increasingly concrete is what was said in the Commission of Culture of the European Parliament when presenting the quinquennial plan. I don’t have the text at hand, but the content was more or less this: Europe’s richness is the diversity of cultures, which has been able to flourish after the Enlightenment because before Catholic hegemony suffocated it.

So, there is freedom for all, including Catholics, so long as the latter do not try to have the right to give their opinion on sociopolitical matters, because they have already done enough damage.

The arbitrariness of this historical interpretation to one side, European secularists — liberals, socialists, radicals, etc. — come together on these anti-democratic and preconceived postures as allies against Catholic culture. It is obvious that respect for diversity applies only when and where it is appealing.

Q: Was resistance to introducing Christian roots in the European Constitution not only an act of secularism but of real aversion to Catholic culture?

Salina: Without a doubt, this is exactly how it is. Secularism of institutions means neutral attitude and support of all cultural positions respectful of the fundamental rights of man.

Instead, this is secularist fundamentalism, dangerous as are all fundamentalisms: to ostracize a culture means to want to impose another. The risks for freedom are obvious.

Q: What was the reaction of Catholics present in the European Parliament?

Salina: As opposed to what has often happened on the occasion of other attacks on the Church and Catholic culture, the question is so grave that there was a reaction. Well mannered, correct, but firm, both by Catholic deputies as well as by the European Popular Party.

Q: What is your association, Christians for Europe, going to do about it?

Salina: In addition to an immediate message of solidarity to Commissioner Buttiglione and to expressing total disapproval to President Josep Borrell Fontelles for his words, we are working to plan a campaign to explain that a considerable part of the European people has been offended, and to sensitize this part of European citizenry to give voice to their feeling.

Q: Why is there so much loathing for the family in the European Parliament?

Salina: As has happened or is happening in other European states — for example, in France in addition to Spain, and in the United Kingdom — some political forces have presented in the country and to Parliament the Civil Pact of Solidarity for the juridical identity; fiscal, health, labor and inheritance rights for all couples that have opted to be together — homosexual and heterosexual.

It is about granting them all the typical rights of a family based on marriage between man and woman. It cannot be excluded that among the supporters there might be one of good faith convinced that it is tolerance and respect for the other, without assessing instead the consequences of such radical options for the future of society.

However, I cannot but think that the motive is also at least the desire to gain a consistent number of votes.

Not a few in Italy — and not just in Italy — because of the war, often quote phrases of the Holy Father, explaining that they refer to him as the highest moral authority.

Many of these are the same ones who in the European Parliament on other occasions have voted to denounce the Pope to the U.N. High Commissioner for violating human rights, and justify themselves by saying that they know how to discern when the Pope is right and when he isn’t.

But what moral authority is there that merits being denounced for violation of human rights? Here, too, I think it is, unquestionably, an expedient to garner votes, especially in the Catholic realm.

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