Stating the truth must not become unlawful
The Zen bill “against homophobia” is unacceptable
of the National Justitia et Pax Steering Committee for the Social Doctrine of the Church
The aim of the Zen bill is to punish those who manifest forms of intolerance towards homosexuals, transsexuals or bisexuals. It unearths and develops the Scalfarotto bill that was submitted during the parliamentary term prior to the current one. Regarding the aims of this bill, we offer three substantial appraisals thereof.
Evident at the basis of this bill is what Benedict XVI called “negative tolerance” which, in his opinion, would have paved the way for new forms of totalitarianism: “The true threat we face is that tolerance would be abolished in the name of tolerance itself”. By way of example, negative tolerance means that no one would be allowed to state in public that the family is only the natural one between man and woman, and thereby avoided would be any intolerance towards other forms of family. In addition, it would also mean preventing any assertion in public that true human sexuality is sexuality between man and woman, and thereby avoided would be any discrimination towards other forms of exercising sexuality. Were this to be regulated by law, it would become unlawful to state the truth. Not only would the Catholic Church be unable to present the teachings of Sacred Scripture in this realm, but each citizen could no longer make any reference to an ethically normative human nature, to a truth that is the source of absolute moral prohibitions, to an order of things that asks to be respected. Forbidden would be not only the freedom to voice an opinion, but the freedom to state the truth. This bill would be directly prejudicial to the freedom of speech, the freedom of worship, and the freedom of education. Above all, however, it would eliminate both the foundation and the exercise of freedom, that is to say truth, without which freedom becomes nothing more than groundless opinion.
Each and every law is an expression of public authority which is empowered to attribute a public value to sundry forms of conduct only if they promote the common good. When a law regulates one or another behavioral or relational reality, it likewise recognizes the reality in question as worthy of legal protection insofar as ordered to the common good. In fact, the common good is the ultimate and true aim of political authority, and renders said authority legitimate. Having established this foundation of political and legal activity, it is then necessary to ask ourselves what should be the criterion according to which political authority may proceed to publically acknowledge or not acknowledge specific forms of conduct. The criterion in question is that of the nature of man and the natural and finalistic system of social togetherness. In fact, this is not the outcome of any sort of agreement, any purposeful decision on the part of those in power, or a mere majority of votes. On the contrary, it is innate to human nature and humankind’s natural social relations, understood not as a subjective and multivalent inclination indifferent to actual contents, but as the expression of a fully human end to be achieved. Any negation of the natural order of human relations ordered to good is to be considered a form of violence.
Once these basic criteria have been established, it follows that not every form of sexual conduct is worthy of controls and public protection, that is to say worthy to pass from the de facto form of exercise to the form of exercise acknowledged as good by the political authority insofar as useful and even indispensible for the common good. Once the political level has embraced the principle that any sexual attitude has the right to pass from the de facto level to that of public de iure recognition, lost will be any possibility to say no to attitudes such as pedophilia, incest, polygamy/polyandry (perhaps in the post-modern version of polyamory), or the-womb-for-rent which the legislative systems of some countries have already contemplated as rights. When the criterion is missing, the negative shift becomes unstoppable.
At the very basis of the Zen bill, therefore, there are three errors: a political one, an ethical one, and an anthropological one. It makes the dignity of the person coincide with the expression of a freedom understood as self-determination without any criteria, without any reasons. Political authority just cannot assume such a notion for the simple reason that the principle of absolute self-determination dissipates socialness, politics, and law. If politics were to recognize and protect any form of individual self-determination, it would forego its own nature and render legitimate any course of action whatsoever. The dignity of the person resides in his/her essence as human person, an essence which becomes normative also for his/her freedom. Politics should neither accept nor embrace what would be a systematic exercise of freedom contrary to the normative system issuing forth from the essence of man himself, and go so far as proposing it as a politically protected example. This would be tantamount to dividing freedom from the good which makes It concrete.