Cardinal Ruini was on the news last night. If Ratzinger is God's Rotweiller, he must be God's ferret, skinny and fast enough to get into the tightest of holes and root out heretics. It's an ever-growing category, always one step behind the awful possibilities offered by science, aided by 'bioethics', but the old favourites remain. Yesterday His Eminence was moaning about euthanasia and, you guessed it, PACS.
I wonder why Italian never comes up with its own words these days, just filches them from somewhere else: authority, PACS, welfare, privacy. It might be because what's being described is so incommensurately foreign that a brand new word (new brand word?) would be wasted. Authority: a government body that doesn't have any. Welfare: the name of a ministry in a country without a social security net outside the family. Privacy: a travesty when Italy has the highest number of intercepted mobile calls in Europe and beyond.
But it's that naughty French acronym PACS, or what the papers insist on calling 'gay marriage', that really gets the old goat's goat. On a personal level (mine), his ranting is particularly inappropriate at the moment. I heard a few days ago that the partner of a friend and colleague of mine (let's call him Dan) had died of cancer just before Christmas. Dan had been with his partner for 36 years. They'd shared a house, their lives, their incomes for more than half their existence and now they've shared a death, each in his own way. Dan's partner had a pension and if Dan and his partner had been able to define their relationship legally (no tulle, no confetti, a simple contract would have done, what even Blair has had the sense to define as a 'civil' partnership) that pension would now be his. If Dan had been a wife, this would have been automatic. As it is, Dan may stand to lose his house, because he can't afford the mortgage.
We're not discussing sacred bonds here. If there's anything sacred in love, the 36 years they spent together are all the proof that's needed. We're talking banal things, like security, money, the space to grieve without thinking about how to pay the bills. Oh yes, if his partner's parents had still been alive, Dan would have to deal with that as well, because half their house would automatically be theirs, whatever his partner might have wanted. That's Roman law.
I don't know what His Ferret would say if I told him about Dan. I don't suppose he'd care. He has bigger fish to defend than a 'gay widower'.