Catacombs

catacombsOnce upon a time … there was a Constitution, the Italian one, which stated, at its Article 19: “All citizens have the right to freely profess their religion in any form, individually or in combination, and to disseminate it in private or in public worship, provided that the… rites are not contrary to public morality.”
Once upon a time … but the Lombardy Regional Council must have forgotten it in last months, giving, with the typical bureaucratic zeal that characterizes the activities of the Italian State, full implementation to a Regional Law ( the 12/2005 ) for years rejected on the basis of its manifest impracticability.
What does this law say? To translate from “legal slang” is certainly not easy but, in essence, the provisions of  its “Title III – Rules for the construction of church buildings and equipment to religious services” can be summarized in the following three points:
1 ) Municipalities can contribute a percentage to the construction of places of worship for those religious associations recognized as such, which so request and which have a “widespread, organized and stable presence on the territory”;
2) no place of worship can be built outside of the areas given by the municipalities for the creation of places of worship or without the permission and contribute of the municipalities;
3) It is forbidden the use for the cult of any other place not specifically designed for cultic functions, if not through a formal change of the “intended use” of the place itself.
What does this mean?
In practice, if a religious community is not widespread, organized and stable on the territory (ie what happens to a plethora of “missions” of a large number of Denominations), it becomes impossible for it to keep its religious cults as it can’t build (given the financial opportunity to do so) a church or convert into church another building: a change of “intended use” is, according to security laws (not applied to most Catholic churches, those same churches that receive municipal aid), practically impossible!
Of course this applies, a fortiori, to those communities which, not having the funds neither to convert nor to build (something anyway impossible because of the criteria of “dissemination, organization and stability”) a place of worship, can no more rent halls for their functions.
Beyond the blatant violation of Article 19, there are a couple of problems with this law, promoted by the right wing xenophobic parties.
The first one is again related to the Italian Constitution, Article 20, which states, “the ecclesiastical nature and the purpose of religion or worship of an association or institution may not be a cause for special limitations under the law”. In fact, when any association of any other kind wishes to rent a room to meet, if this room is in conformity with the security requirements and the State commissioner is informed three days before the meeting, there are no problems, but this does not apply to a religious community that wants to perform a function and can’t do it just for the fact to be a religious community, in clear violation of the constitutional rule.
The second problem concerns the criteria of “widespread, organized and stable presence on the ground” that is patently illegal as the Italian Constitutional Court, judgment no. 925 of 1988, declared “no longer acceptable any kind of discrimination based only on the greater or lesser number of members of different faiths.”
But… who cares?
Is there a solution? Theoretically yes, but only theoretically .
Or, in fact, there should be private non-denominational places of worship to rent, which is in itself impossible as a non-denominational place of worship could, of course, in no way meet the criteria of “dissemination, organization and stability of a religious community”, or any municipality, in accordance with the Constitution, should have the foresight to build at least one of these non-denominational places of worship to allow (at controlled prices despite the obvious monopoly) Communities to rent them: we all know that municipalities will never do it without getting money from the state (and the state will never give the money in crisis times).
The result? The result is that in last months, in Lombardy, thanks to a law defined (and it is such a disgusting definition!) “Minarets destroyer”, already 24 communities of different Denominations have been left without a place of worship …
What a great result! Finally, the region that calls itself “the most European” of Italy, can now boast another first: it is the first Italian region to have reintroduced the catacombs!

The manger

kid-hospital-doctor-300x300 (2)So it happened again: nationality, the “right of the blood” (or perhaps just a demagogic manipulation of the economic crisis) prevailed on humanity!
The government of Lombardy, the Italian region in which I live, rejected a motion of some members of the regional council to abolish the veto on pediatric cures for the sons of illigal immigrants, leaving only the possibility of cures for urgent first aid treatments.
There would be so many things to say about this… We could discuss about the meaning of borders, the exasperation of the concept of nation, the incredible (in my vision) preponderance of the selfish power of a passport on the most basic feelings of common human bounds, the abuse of the spreading of fears related to the crisis, the disgusting classification of human beings into A series and B series people. And all this elements would apply to the whole problem of visa recognition.
But here we are in front of something even deeper, even more radical: we are speaking about babies and children! How can you apply your stupid political laws to babies and children? Even if you think the unthinkable, if you blame people escaping from wars, poverty, insecurity and unable to fulfill the tough and very complex requests to get a visa for coming here looking for a better life, even if you insanely want to consider them criminals, what are their babies and children guilty for?
It’s astonishing how perhaps the same people moved by some internet photos of dogs taking care of puppy cats or similar stuff could agree with a law going against the most basic feelings and instincts of any mammal (not to speak about the most basic roots of humanity) or, at least, could consider it reasonable and necessary! This happens when accidental items become more important than the substancial ones!
Is the power of fear so strong? Do they think to grant pediatric assistance to “illegal” babies and children would definitly destroy our economy and take them to starvation? Sadly yes, it is exactly what these people, continously complaining about the fact the illegal immigrants are “milking the Italian cow” (are they? Why? On which bases are you saying this?), think. And surprisingly we are talking about the same people thinking that if an artist, a sport champion, a politician or a tycoon evades taxes, well, he is just cunning or he is “defending himself from the rapacity of the state”: not being so digusting it could even seem a joke!
There is, anyway, besides all the horror I feel for the incredible abyss of selfishness some people can reach, a question which goes on turning in my mind, a question about the medical doctors.
As far as I know, at the time of being admitted as a member of the medical profession, all of them sign a oath:
I solemnly pledge to consecrate my life to the service of humanity;
I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due;
I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity;
The health of my patient will be my first consideration;
I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died;
I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honour and the noble traditions of the medical profession;
My colleagues will be my sisters and brothers;
I will not permit considerations of age, disease or disability, creed, ethnic origin, gender, nationality, political affiliation, race, sexual orientation, social standing or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient;
I will maintain the utmost respect for human life;
I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties, even under threat;
I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honour.”
What will a pediatrician do in front of the son of an illegal immigrant suffering for any desease (or simply needing a check) but not having the need for an immediate first aid treatment? Will he answer to the parents: “Well, I’m sorry, but you must go back to your homeland to have your son cured!?
Being a Christian (but as far as I know similar elements are present also in other traditions), I can’t help thinking about a passage of the Gospel: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn“…