Italian Archbishop defends himself against homophobia charges

On Saturday, January 12, 2013, militant homosexual demonstrators gathered in Trieste (Italy) in front of the archbishop’s residence to protest the alleged “racism” and “homophobia” of the leader of the Catholic Archdiocese.

They had picked the wrong target. Before his appointment to the See of Trieste in October 2009, Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi had served as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. In that position he fought against racism and collaborated with an international group of prominent legal scholars to rewrite the Holy See’s document condemning racism. He even led a Delegation of the Holy See to the United Nations for a special session on racism.

The editor of the Trieste weekly newspaper, Vita Nuova, interviewed Abp. Crepaldi about the incident, and the interview was reprinted in other Italian publications. An English translation of selected questions and answers from that interview follows.

Your Grace, where were you last Saturday during the demonstration organized by Arcigay in front of the Archbishop’s Residence?

Confined to my quarters….

What happened?

First I was in the Chapel praying Evening Prayer, and then I went back to reading a voluminous book by Rodney Stark, a great American sociologist, entitled The Triumph of Christianity, which analyzes, among other things, the many persecutions suffered by Christians during two thousand years of history. The book demonstrates, with a wealth of information, that in the end the persecutors pass away and the Christians go on, because the persecutions purify them and make them stronger. It is a book that I recommend.

The one on Saturday was a demonstration against you…

Yes, based on the false and very serious accusation that yours truly is intolerant and racist. […]

The question revolves around homophobia…

No, sir, the question is a different one, precisely the one mentioned by the organizers of the demonstration: to use homophobia as a pretext so as to gain acceptance for the right to same-sex marriage. Everyone understood that. […]

Please explain…

We have to consider two aspects, both of them very delicate. First. The ultimate objective of these campaigns is to undermine one of the foundations of civilization, the concept of the family based on the marriage between a man and a woman, by equating it with other forms of cohabitation.

And the second?

To criminalize homophobia, so that anyone who declares publicly—as the Catholic Church always has done—that the only true family is one founded on the marriage of a man and a woman would be declared homophobic, intolerant and racist, and therefore would be subject to criminal prosecution…. This insidious project, devised by progressives and libertarians, will muzzle everybody, depriving them of freedom. It is paradoxical that the Church that gave the world the highest concept of the incomparable value of the human person and taught the duty of respect, equality and fraternity, should be described as a racist, discriminating institution. This is one of the oddities of history. However, my friends in Vienna at the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe, whom I call on now and then for an opinion or to monitor the situation in Trieste, tell me that a large-scale “gender persecution” against Christianity has begun and that it will be very severe. There will be the militants, some who seek a compromise, some who betray, there will be the faithful and there will also be martyrs. […]

The President of the Province [of Trieste, Maria Teresa Bassa Poropat,] declared that there is a “need for an open Church”.

That was a rather inappropriate request on the part of an institutional Authority who has always been admired for her moderation and ability to stay at her post. To the President of the Province I say that the only thing that the Church must do is to be faithful to the requests of Jesus, her Spouse and her Lord. Let Him suffice.

And what do you say about the Mayor?

Mayor Cosolini … stated that “the critique [of the demonstration] by the diocese was legitimate”: a serious, responsible and balanced declaration.

But a municipal Magistrate participated in the demonstration…

It was reported to me that there were two Magistrates. I hope that they don’t use the line that they were there in their personal capacity…. Personally I maintain that their participation was disturbing and that it was a black mark on democracy and on the honor of the city’s institutions. A Municipal Council is at the service of the welfare of everyone and in its work must respect the rights of all. […] I do not know whether homophobia—which I obviously and strongly condemn—is so widespread in Trieste, and I cannot say whether the zeal of our civil institutions in this matter is appropriate. What the facts demonstrate is that recently in Trieste a case of Christianophobia has been developing.


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About Michael J. Miller 127 Articles
Michael J. Miller Michael J. Miller translated Priesthood and Diaconate by Gerhard Ludwig Müller for Ignatius Press and Eucharist and Divorce: A Change in Doctrine? for the Pontifical John Paul II Institute.