CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 September 2017

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Different views hard to stomach

ROME (SE): Emma Bonino, who is best known in Italy for her boast of having performed around 10,000 abortions illegally, was the guest speaker at the parish of San Defendente in San Rocco di Cossato in Beilla, northern Italy, on July 26.
 
While various groups protested against her presence and tried to disrupt the meeting, they were ejected from the church while Bonino spoke about the immigration policies of the country and her advocacy for refugees and migrants.
 
A one-time foreign minister in Italy, Bonino is currently the leader of the Radical Party and supports an open door policy on immigration, which has prompted Pope Francis to call her one of the greats of current political life in the country.
 
The talk was sponsored by Caritas Italiana and the parish priest, Father Mario Marchiori, had made the church available for the event.
 
Bonino spoke of her current campaign to have Italy’s 2002 legislation on immigration, which saw a considerably tightening of its policy, broadened.
 
She is also a strong advocate for abortion and drugs, as well as sexual and religious freedom, while at the same time fighting against conscious objection.
 
Quite a mixture, but Pope Francis said that although he knows she thinks differently from the Church on many matters, her work for refugees in Africa should not be forgotten and her expertise in the area not be ignored.
 
“Patience. You have to look at people, what they do,” Pope Francis said.
 
The National Catholic Register reported that she told the gathering that she agreed to speak at the parish because she comes from a family of practicing Catholics and had been brought up to respect other people’s opinions.
 
She explained that Africa has a population that is too big, but understands that this is poverty induced, while at the same time demographics in Italy are in decline, but on the topic of immigration, she said the country must accept those knocking at the door otherwise the only choice is to drown them all in the Mediterranean.
 
The director of Caritas in the diocese, Father Giovanni Perini, is well known for inviting controversial speakers to the parish. On a previous occasion, he invited Beppino Englaro, a supporter of euthanasia, to speak.
 
Although the talk was controversial on some levels, it attracted little attention, the National Catholic Register claimed.
 
But while the publication makes much of the many people that were critical of both the parish priest and of Caritas for inviting a known abortionist to speak in a church, it does not address the content of her talk or regard it as an opportunity to listen to a person talk from a different point of view.
 
Bonino’s topic for the evening was immigration and she steered clear of what she understands are sensitive topics in Church, paying due respect to the nature of the building in which she was appearing.
 
Intolerance of those we do not agree with can be a terribly blinding passion.

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