Pope expresses solidarity with Msgr. Bagnasco, the target of threats
01 May 2007
Vatican City: May 1, 2007.â€“ The president of the Italian Bishops Conference, Msgr. Angelo Bagnasco, who has been subjected to a series of grave threats, has received the support of the pope and the entire Italian Church
urging him not to give in to intimidation. Yesterday morning, Benedict XVI made a personal phone call to the Archbishop, followed later in the day by an official telegram. In the note written on behalf of the pope by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pontiff also urges the prelate to "continue in his work for the common good, defending and promoting those human and religious values without which it is impossible to build true, free and stable democracies". The pope went on to express "his profound and painful shock" at the "grave and despicable events which aim to disturb the serene coexistence of the civil and ecclesial community".
Msgr. Bagnasco, Archbishop of Genoa, has for some time been the object of pressure and threats. Early April he was placed under police protection, after threatening slogans against him appeared on the walls of the city Cathedral and churches throughout Italy. Days ago he even received an envelope with a bullet and a photograph of him marked as a target.
Hostility against the Italian Church arose after the bishops declared their opposition to a proposed law legalizing de facto couples, including homosexual unions. According to the bishops the draft bill (known as "Dico") undermines the spiritual and natural values of the family as a union between a man and a woman and also threatens social stability. As a result The Italian Church programmed a national gathering for May 12th called "Family Day", in support of the traditional family.
Proponents across Italy's political divide have also expressed their solidarity for Msgr. Bagnasco . Last week, some politicians from Italy's extreme left had attempted to bring accusations of "homophobia" against the prelate in the European Parliament.