Government Minister In Italy Seeks To Form European Religious Right

An Italian government official who was denied a slot as a European Union commissioner after he made comments critical of gays is launching a new Religious Right-style organization.

Rocco Buttiglione was nominated to be EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security but had to withdraw his name after comments he had made about gays and marriage became public.

Buttiglione, a Roman Catholic, said he considered homosexuality “a sin” and added that the purpose of marriage is procreation and the protection of women by their husbands.

Officials at the European Union refused to confirm Buttiglione after the comments came to light. Members of the European Parliament said Buttiglione’s comments were inflammatory and proved that he is not fit to be justice minister.

The new organization, Buttiglione said, will not be a political party but will seek to create “a network of connections between all the people who have supported me and among all those who want to defend freedom.”

Buttiglione said he had received expressions of support from Spain, Germany and Great Britain. People, he said, are “asking me not to let these issues drop but to carry them forward with political and cultural initiatives.”

Aides to Buttiglione said the Italian government official was inspired by President George W. Bush’s re-election in November. One advisor told the London Sunday Telegraph, “Mr. Buttiglione is thinking of a novel idea, a kind of resurgent Christian political movement in Europe. The success of President George W. Bush in mobilizing the Christian vote in America…is a sign of what can be done.”

Buttiglione has been touring Italy speaking before crowds. In Milan, he told one group, “They want a Catholic witch to burn. Well, here I am. What happened in the European Parliament is extremely serious. What they did was to say to someone that, since you adhere to your religious faith, you’re not suitable to be a European Commissioner.”

In an interview with European reporters, Buttiglione said, “What I am thinking of is a group to battle for the freedom of Christians, which is the freedom of everyone. A group to fight against the kind of creeping totalitarianism which has emerged recently regarding my personal situation.”

U.S. conservatives have made Butti­glione into a hero. In December, he traveled to Washington and addressed the American Enterprise Institute and received a “Faith and Freedom” Award from the Acton Institute, reported The Washington Times.

“In Europe, it is fashionable to be anti-Christian,” Buttiglione told the crowd. He regaled attendees with tales of his unsuccessful effort to add recognition of Christianity to the new constitution of the European Union.

Buttiglione claimed that Europe will in time become more like the United States.

“You cannot imagine the impact of the result of the American election in Europe,” he said. “Because America is modernity and what takes place in America today will take place in Europe in 10, 15 or 20 years.”