ROME — Hundreds of thousands of people from all over Italy responded to Pope Francis’ repeated warnings about gender ideology, by taking part in an enormous demonstration in the square of St. John Lateran in Rome on Saturday.
The “Family Day” was aimed at defending the traditional family and stopping the spread of gender ideology in schools. It was also a protest against the Cirinnà bill passing through the Italian Parliament. The legislation, which was introduced by Socialist Senator Monica Cirinnà, proposes giving same-sex couples many of the same rights as married couples.
“We say ‘no’ to any form of education which denies sexual differences,” said the Secretary of the Center-Right Party, the UPC, Antonio Satta. “We have to recognize the rights of the individual, but this should not lead to a distortion of the family institution.”
The demonstration was organized in less than three weeks, and despite the poor weather and little support from the Italian Bishops’ Conference, organizers said it attracted close to one million participants, many of whom were families.
Many pro-life and pro-family organizations were behind the event. These included the Neocatechumenal Way, Parliamentarians for the Family, Lawyers for Life, the Movement for Life, and the French pro-family lobby La Manif Pour Tous. Also present were leaders from the Orthodox, Muslim and Sikh communities of Italy. Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, sent messages of support.
Speakers rallied the crowd with impassioned pleas to end the indoctrination of “gender ideology” in schools. One father explained how his son came home from school telling him his teacher taught his class that Italy is cruel and unjust because it doesn’t allow same-sex “marriage.” “Basta! Basta! Basta!” (Enough! Enough! Enough!) the father shouted to rapturous cheers and applause.
Many of the participants credited the leadership given by Pope Francis, particularly on the issue of gender ideology.
Gender theorists hold that “sex” may be what a person is biologically, but gender is what the person believes himself or herself to be. Such theorists posit that people should be able to identify as male, female, neither or both, despite increasing evidence to suggest that gender theory is confusing and harming children.
In fact, in April 2014, Pope Francis lambasted the indoctrination of children, who have increasingly been taught what the Church considers to be nefarious and highly destructive ideologies, tantamount to emotional, psychological and even sexual abuse of children.
“[We need to support] the right of parents to decide the moral and religious education of their children. And in this regard I would like to express my rejection of any kind of educational experimentation on children. We cannot experiment on children and young people. They are not lab specimens!” the Pope said.
He continued: “The horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the 20th century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals and, with the pretense of modernity, push children and young people to walk on the dictatorial path of “only one form of thought”. A little over a week ago a great teacher said to me… ‘At times with these projects — referring to actual educational projects — one doesn’t know whether the child is going to school or to a re-education camp’.” (Pope Francis, Address to Members of the International Catholic Child Bureau, April 11, 2014).