Govt condemns diocese letter on gender ed - update

Church told teachers to 'report' on schools with gender programs

(ANSA) - Milan, November 13 - An openly gay undersecretary in the cabinet of Premier Matteo Renzi on Thursday called "inopportune" a letter from the Milan Catholic diocese asking religion teachers to report back on any schools with gay- or gender-related programs.
    "One could euphemistically call the letter inopportune, and it was probably the fruit of an excess of zeal and a lack of forethought," said Reform Ministry Undersecretary Ivan Scalfarotto, a long-time promoter of LGBT rights. The letter written by the prelate in charge of education, Father Gian Battista Rota, was made public when some teachers turned it over to La Repubblica newspaper. The Milan diocese later confirmed the letter, while withdrawing it from its own site.
    "Religion teachers play an important role in a public school system that is and must remain secular," Scalfarotto said. "Turning them...into some kind of secret agent or snitch damages their dignity and harms a Church that so many - believers and non-believers - would like to see be welcoming and inclusive," the undersecretary concluded.
    Also on Thursday, Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) chief Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco appeared to distance himself from the incident.
    "It seems extremely improbable and strange that a census of this kind could be carried out in schools," he said.


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