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Two news events that US and UK Catholics haven't noticed

Just briefly, I want to draw the attention of concerned Catholics to two international news events whose timing (last Sunday and Monday, right at the end of the Rome Synod on the Family) is especially poignant.

First, after years of dispute the Italian Council of State decided on Monday to quash court decisions that had allowed left-wing mayors in Italy to keep public registers of so-called "gay marriages". The Council of State, fresh from reading the final Relatio of the Synod, no doubt, announced on Monday that gay marriages are against human rights because they do not take into account the need to treat different groups equally but differently, hence marriage is for men and women but not for homosexuals.

Tuesday's Corriere della Serra seemed relieved and approving about this. They mentioned that 13 countries in the EU have either gay marriage or civil unions, and 9 (including Italy) have no special provision at all. So that, now, is the definitive position of Italy, because the Council of State is the final court of appeal. And in parliamentary politics, the issue is long dead, especially now that the Italians have interpreted the Pope as saying "divoziati si, ommosessuali no!" (Even if that is not exactly what was said at the Synod, but still ...)

Second, in Poland, on Sunday the traditionalist and Eurosceptic Justice and Law Party (PiS) was elected to government with a programme of repealing the law that made IVF legal, probably abolishing abortion completely, and generally reinforcing traditional Catholic and pro-life values. The line taken by the Synod, and by the Polish bishops especially, will give that political programme real wheels.


"In Poland, there is no value system that could realistically compete ... with the teachings of the church," PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said just days before the election in a TV interview.

"If someone fights this system, then regardless of whether they are a believer or not, they favour nihilism," said Kaczynski, twin brother of Poland's late president Lech Walesa and devout Catholic.

The Sunday election result coincided with the Polish bishops' statement (following on from the Synod) that in Poland, at least, there will be no change to Catholic pastoral discipline with regard to the sacraments.

Interestingly, across the border in Poland's historic enemy, Russia, the Russian orthodox church has started to wake up to the problem of abortion, and its bishops are starting to condemn it more and more. And if there is one country where gay marriage will not happen in any of our lifetime's, it is certainly Russia. Poland had long seen its history as a constant struggle between Rome and Byzantium, but remember that it was a Polish pope who first coined the expression about Europe needing to breathe from both its lungs: East and West.

With Putin now positioning himself as a defender of Christians against Islamic oppression, with a massive new tide of anti-abortion sentiment in the US, with these interesting developments in Poland and Italy, and the recent Rome Synod's stance against abortion, gay marriage and the gender theory, the whole geo-political scene is now acquiring a new moral, cultural and even spiritual dimension. In 2004 when the future Benedict XVI talked about the dictatorship of relativism and the threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism, he was something of a lone voice. Now, a decade later, millions of people around the world are beginning to agree with him. As Lech Walesa's brother has it, those who don't agree, "regardless of whether they are a believer or not, favour nihilism". And nihilism, I can promise you, is going nowhere.

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