Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa surprisingly decided last week to cancel three separate public prayers of reparation for a “gay pride” parade scheduled to take place in the northern Italian city.

The instruction to cancel the prayers, first reported on the Italian blog MessainLatino, came from his auxiliary Bishop Nicolo Anselmi.

According to the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Bishop Anselmi told the three parish priests in question by phone that Cardinal Bagnasco considered the initiatives “inappropriate.” 

The Rosary and Eucharistic Adoration were to have been offered in three Genoa churches over three days, June 13-15, to coincide with the parade taking place in the city on June 15. 

But the day before the first prayer of reparation was to have taken place, an instruction from the archdiocesan curia was issued asking the priests of those churches to cancel the planned moments of prayer.

"We are sorry to have to inform you that the diocesan curia of Genoa has asked priests and Church leaders indicated below to cancel moments of planned public prayer reparation,” read a statement issued on the web page of Santo Rosario in Italia, an organization coordinating prayers of reparation across Italy. 

“We therefore invite the faithful interested in the prayer of reparation to pray elsewhere in spiritual communion,” it added. 

Over the weekend, the Register asked Cardinal Bagnasco, a former president of the Italian bishops’ conference who serves as president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, why he took the decision.

But the cardinal, 76, who some consider a possible future pope, did not respond. Neither did Bishop Anselmi whose secretary told La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana’s Andrea Zambrano that the bishop was “busy all day in a meeting and cannot be disturbed or left messages.” 

Zambrano contrasted how such reparatory prayers are denied while other churches in Genoa, such as San Pietro in Banchi, have been allowed to hold “anti-homophobic vigils” since at least 2017. 

Zambrano recalled that the church was also allowed to hold an ecumenical prayer service, promoted by an LGBT group, for victims of homophobia, transphobia and other discrimination on May 12. He also revealed that Bishop Anselmi himself presided over such a vigil in 2017.  

Added to the decision in Genoa was a contentious message issued by the Bishop of Vicenza on a “gay pride” parade taking place there on June 15. 

 

“Now It’s Madness”

In the message reported on MessainLatino under the headline “now it’s madness” and a “tragic situation,” Bishop Beniamino Pizziol wrote he had been “urged to take a stand.” He said each person has a “history, values and beliefs that are asking to be heard and which deserve respect even before any religious affiliation, political, social or cultural.” 

He added that his “desire” was also that each person “can feel welcomed in our city this day, whatever their origins, choices, orientations.”

Bishop Pizziol, 72, went on to say that as bishop of the diocese, he wished to “appeal in particular to all baptized Christians who find in Christ meaning and reference for their own lives and choices.” 

“Let us remember,” he continued, “that Christ is the only judge of our lives, the only one who truly knows the heart and mind of every human being.” He added that Jesus and the Gospel “invite us to recognize that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness and invite us not to judge our brothers in order to experience God’s mercy in our time.”

The bishop ended his message saying he would be “pleased to meet the promoters of these events in the coming weeks, if they wish, in the bishopric, to listen and reflect together on the great issues of our times in the light of the Gospel and the Magisterium of the Church.”

But not all Italian dioceses take this compromising approach. In Trieste, where the “gay pride” parade earlier this month contained blasphemous signs, Archbishop Giampaolo Crepaldi ordered prayers of reparation to take place on June 13.

"The most precious nucleus of our faith in Christ the Lord and our devotion was struck in the heart,” he said in a statement. “Here is the need to repair what has been broken and to clean up what has been sullied, which, from Jesus Christ onwards, constitutes the mission proper to the Church and to us Christians.” 

Writing in La Nuova, Zambrano said this is the authentic Catholic response showing why reparation is needed rather than the other which is merely a “bowing of the head in the face of a threatening power that has a big and intimidating voice.” 

Pope St. John Paul II condemned a “gay pride” parade in Rome in 2000, saying he felt “deep sadness” at “the offense to the Christian values of a city that is so dear to the hearts of Catholics throughout the world.” 

“The Church cannot be silent about the truth, because she would fail in her fidelity to God the Creator and would not help to distinguish good from evil,” he said at a July 9 Angelus, before quoting from the Church’s teaching in the Catechism on homosexuality and homosexual acts.