Vatican regrets trend towards rights for unmarried couples
The Vatican has criticised legislative moves in many countries to give gay and heterosexual unmarried couples the same status and rights as partners in a traditional marriage.
In a 76-page document released by the Pontifical Commission for the Family, the Vatican said that while moves to legitimise heterosexual common-law unions was wrong, doing so for homosexual unions was 'much more grave'.
Many governments in Europe and North America are giving such couples equal rights in areas including adoption, pensions, citizenship and taxes.
The document called homosexual unions 'a deplorable distortion' and attacked attempts to permit the adoption of children by gay couples.
It said that giving these couples such rights is "an arbitrary use of power which does not contribute to the common good because the original nature of marriage and the family precedes and exceeds, in an absolute and radical way, the sovereign power of the state."
"De facto unions are the result of private behavior and should remain on the private level. Their public recognition or equivalency to marriage...damages the family based on marriage," it said.