The president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Bishop Elio Sgreccia reacted this week to charges leveled by the president of the Italian Parliament, who argued that the Church is trying to create religious laws by defending the right to life.
“The issues the Catholic world strives to contribute to are issues not defined as religious precepts; they are issues that have to do with the fundamental rights of man, such as the right to and respect for life, the rights that have to do with the unity of marriage and the family,” Bishop Sgreccia responded.
The bishop’s comments were made in response to the president of the Italian parliament, Gianfranco Casini, who said, “Parliament must make laws that are not guided by religious precepts.” Bishop Sgreccia said these issues “are not religious precepts, but rather are written in human nature, they are defended by reason and are inscribed in the Constitution as well.”
He went on to recall that Catholics “never seek that laws be made that are solely based on religious precepts, such as going to Mass, for example. These issues that are being discussed all qualify as fundamental rights of the person.”
However, the bishops said, “the fact that it is Catholics who defend them (inviolable rights such as the right to life) does not mean they have less human value or that the Catholic defense of them has less rationale. The faith reassures us in our rational arguments but it never substitutes human reason.”
Bishop Sgreccia urged Casini to exercise “calm and reflection” and said the tensions felt on the political stage regarding these fundamental issues “sometimes obscures the national clarity and are due to political passion, excessive partisan polemics, and the Church does not want to provide any more reason for their to be further rupture. But this unrest should in no way lead to underestimating the gravity of the questions of bioethics.”
Lastly the bishop remarked, “There shouldn’t be any fences built around Catholics because we have all of the cards in order to defend the family against euthanasia or against the gravity of abortion.”