Yet Mass-going Catholics remain a sizable chunk of the national population and are well represented in both major political parties, and their sentiments have to be at least considered.
Certainly the pope himself still has some political muscle in his own backyard.
The first parliamentary vote on the proposal, known as the Cirinnà bill for the lawmaker who authored it, Monica Cirinnà of the Democratic Party, is set for Thursday.
Backers believe they have enough support to pass it, although since parties have indicated that members are free to vote their consciences, hard counts are illusive.
This is Italy, so from the beginning of the ferment, one question above all has loomed over the debate: “Where does Pope Francis stand?
” Early on, it seemed plausible Francis might just sit this one out.
Perhaps the calculation on the civil unions proposal — to paraphrase a Star Trek “Borg” reference — is that resistance is not futile.
Even Cirinnà recently acknowledged that “today the numbers for marriage equality just aren’t there, either in the House or the Senate.” 2. The Italian media has made a great deal of a perceived rupture between Galantino and Bagnasco, and more broadly a divide in the Italian Church, with some dioceses participating heartily in Family Day and others effectively ignoring it. Francis has been the Bishop of Rome for almost three years now, and has a deeper understanding rooted in his own experience that Italy is different from the rest of Western Europe in one key respect: For all its travails, the Catholic Church still has significant social capital and packs a political punch.
In that context, Francis may feel the need to demonstrate solidarity with Bagnasco by not undercutting his position. That doesn’t mean the Italian Church wins all the time; famously, it lost referenda in 1974 over divorce and in 1981 over abortion, and prevailed in 2005 over stem cell research only by persuading Italians not to vote in order to invalidate the ballot.
Those revisions, however, have not satisfied the bill’s critics.
In the meantime, some backers of the bill are now threatening to vote “no” if it’s watered down any further.