Mariano Crociata: a name, a promise. The general secretary of CEI (the Italian Episcopal Conference) secures a spot in the front page of Italian newspapers today by declaring that pharmacists in Italy should be allowed to object to the distribution of pharmaceuticals enabling " clearly immoral choices", like abortion. I wonder why he stopped short of asking for the removal of condoms from the counters. Hmmm, let me guess: a sudden change of mind about birth control ? Or just the knowledge that it would be too large an economical loss for pharmacy owners to self-flagellate that way ?

RU-486, the abortion pill, has been declared legal recently in Italy, and the Church is in fibrillation. I actually respect their frustration at observing a country which is becoming freer and freer from their suggested moral cliches. What I hate, however, is their attempt to steer the political agenda of Italy for their aims, which are not a society following the new Testament, but rahter the accumulation of money and power.

Mariano means "of Mary", from the name of the Virgin. Crociata means "crusade". Mariano Crociata. Who else could CEI hire as a general secretary ? And the guy is brilliant: after years spent corrupting the Hippocratic oath of physicians, letting the idea pass that a physician should not always act for the benefit of the patient, but sometimes "object" and stick to his or her moral standards, the Italian Church is now trying to arrange a second trench line, based on making drugs they consider "immoral" unavailable to the Italian population. After suggesting a scandalous law -promptly voted by Berlusconi's government- which makes assisted fecundation unreasonable, which has forced wealthy Italian couples to make a trip to Estonia or Spain to get inseminated properly, CEI is trying to limit as much as possible the distribution of RU486.

I do not cheer when a woman has an abortion. It is the tragic outcome of a unwanted pregnancy, often brought about by sexual exploitation of the woman, or by a female-hostile society; or the result of the deeply-pondered choice by the mother, to avoid the birth of a seriously handicapped child. But women, and women alone, must be the ones who choose whether they need to interrupt their pregnancy. Any hindrance to this freedom of choice has been shown to result in a higher rate of illegal abortions, a significant fraction of which end with the death of the mother.

Once again, the roman catholic church shows how they marry the logic of Machiavelli, by trying to use any expediency to fight what they think they need to show they are fighting. But once again, in so doing they also show just how low they fly. Why not the condoms too, then ? Opportunistic bastards. Of course I am happy to see that condoms are freely distributed, but I am disgusted to see just how consistency is an alien value to these fellows. The money they take from our taxes are a value to them, however. If you live in Italy, please remember to assign the 0.8% of your taxes to somebody else next May. Cancer research, science, whatever. But not the salary of Mariano Crociata.