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Vatican tells lawmakers to oppose 'immoral' same-sex unions

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yesterday issued its anticipated directive against gay marriage, telling politicians and lawmakers that they are "morally bound" to oppose "gravely unjust laws" intended to allow such unions.

The document emerges in a climate of increasing initiatives by governments worldwide to grant legal recognition to same-sex unions or gay marriages.

The Vatican called on lawmakers to offer "clear and emphatic opposition" to such measures, which it said were contrary to human nature and ultimately harmful to society.

In yesterday's 12-page document, it expressed particular alarm at moves to allow gay couples to adopt children, which it said would be a form of "violence" against children and "gravely immoral".

The document rejected arguments that failing to give gay unions legal recognition would be unjust discrimination and underscored the unique social role of marriage between a man and a woman in continuing the human race and raising children.

"The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it," it said.

It instructed Catholic politicians that they were morally bound to oppose such "gravely unjust laws" and said all public servants had the right to conscientious objection if they were asked to apply them.

Titled "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" and released in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish, the document coincided with a growing movement in Europe and North America toward granting gay couples some or all of the legal protections and benefits of marriage.

President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops President Wilton Gregory welcomed the document, urging Catholics and all persons of good will to give the document "serious and thoughtful attention".

In the UK, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham praised the document for its clarity.

"It is a sound guide in some aspects of current debate," he said. "Unjust discrimination is indeed wrong and must be addressed. But sexual behaviour needs guiding moral principles and our society needs a framework of law that enhances, not undermines, marriage."

The Australian Bishops have not yet commented, but their research officer Dr Warwick Neville stressed to ABC Radio's AM program that the document is consistent with the Vatican's previous stance on the issue.

Australian Rainbow Sash Movement spokesman Michael Kelly told The Australian that the document is relentlessly negative, cold-hearted and an insult to the dignity of homosexuals.

Catholic News Service

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Considerations regarding Proposals to give Legal Recognition to Unions between Homosexual Persons (English official text)
Bishops' Head Welcomes Vatican Statement on Legal Recognition of Unions Between Homosexual Persons (US Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Archbishop Nichols (Birmingham UK) response to Vatican statement on homosexuality (Independent Catholic News)
Vatican document cold hearted: gays (The Australian)
Vatican bid to stop gay reforms (The Age)
Vatican document clearly condemns same-sex "marriage" (Catholic World News)
Vatican drive to curb gay marriage (BBC)
Vatican goes on offensive over gay marriage (London Independent)
Vatican fights gay marriages (CNN)
Chrétien's 'morally grave' error (Toronto Globe and Mail)
Gay Marriage (And Its Imitations) Can Be Stopped (National Catholic Register)
(Irish) Gay groups slam Vatican statement
Bishops take gay-marriage issue to court `Keep traditional definition,' Catholics say (Toronto Star)
Bush will not budge on gay marriage: spokesman (AFP)
Europeans react to Vatican statement on gay marriage (FoxNews)
Gay marriages 'deviant' (SkyNews UK)
Bush to ban gay marriage (Courier Mail)
Vatican comments upset Irish gays (Irish Examiner)
Vatican Says Catholics Must Oppose Gay-Marriage Laws (Bloomberg)
Vatican Starts Campaign Vs. Gay Marriage (AP)
Vatican urges unity against gay marriages (AP)

32 Aug 2003