Senators blast Bagnasco on civil unions

Bishop urged 'secret vote' in name of 'freedom of conscience'

(ANSA) - Rome, February 11 - Three Democratic Party (PD) Senators said Thursday Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco was out of line when he urged a secret vote on the government's civil unions bill, aspects of which some Catholic lawmakers object to. "Intervening on voting procedures fully merits being called interference in affairs of State," Senator Sergio Lo Giudice (PD) told ANSA. "The Senate Speaker not the CEI chief decides how to regulate Senate debate," said Parliamentary Relations Undersecretary Luciano Pizzetti (PD). "I ask for respect for the institutions of the Italian Republic," Deputy House Speaker Valeria Fedeli (PD) told ANSA.
    Bagnasco, who heads the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI), on Thursday called for a secret vote on the bill in the name of freedom of conscience. "We hope freedom of conscience on fundamental issues for the life of society and individuals is not only respected but promoted with a secret ballot," said the Genoa archbishop.
    The bill now before the Senate would extend to committed gay couples some of the same rights and protections currently enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. In Italy, the principle of separation between church and state is enshrined in Article 7 of the Constitution.