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Pope says same-sex unions 'degrade' marriage

Pope John Paul II urged authorities on Saturday to stop approving gay marriages, saying they "degrade" the true sense of marriage between a man and a woman.

It was the second time in a week the the Holy Father has raised the issue, which is making headlines in the United States as gay couples marry in San Francisco and other cities.

John Paul said a family based on marriage between a man and a woman was a pillar of society that justly had rights and duties specific to it.

"This is a time in which there is no lack of attempts to reduce marriage to a mere individual contract, with characteristics very different from those that belong to marriage and the family, and that end up degrading it as if it were a form of accessory association within the social body," he said.

John Paul urged all public authorities, but particularly Catholic ones, to stop approving such laws, saying they should not contribute to legislation contrary to "the primary and essential norms that regulate moral life."

Authorities must instead protect laws that favor the family "knowing that they promote a social development that is just, stable and promising," he said.

The Pope made the comments as the new ambassador of Argentina to the Holy See presented his credentials. In 2002, the city of Buenos Aires passed a law extending certain civil rights like health insurance and pension rights to same-sex couples - the first Latin American city to adopt such a measure.

Last year, the Vatican launched a global campaign against gay marriages in a bid to stem the tide of widening legal recognition for same-sex unions in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Pope: Same-Sex Unions 'Degrade' Marriage (Boston Globe/Associated Press 29/2/04)

Pope defends marriage as union between men and women (Reuters 29/2/04)
Pope sued for lifting Christianity (The Sunday Age/AAP 29/2/04)
John Paul II Calls for Respect of Minorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Zenit 27/2/04)
Secularism Must Not Be Confused With Laicism, Pope Cautions (Zenit 27/2/04)
Catholics' Contribution in Public Life Linked to Formation (Zenit 27/2/04)
Macedonian Leader's Peace Efforts Recalled (Zenit 27/2/04)
Pope's Linguistic Repertoire Still Growing (Zenit 26/2/04)
Pope reiterates condemnation of gay marriage (Miami Herald/AP 29/2/04)
Stop allowing gay weddings, Pope pleads (Associated Press/Toronto Star 29/2/04)
Pope says Bosnian peace requires overcoming ethnic hostilities (Catholic News Service 27/2/04)
Pope's foreign travel to resume? (Catholic World News 27/2/04)
Pope warns French bishops on secularism (Catholic World News 27/2/04)
Pope prays for children, Haiti ( 29/2/04)

30 Mar 2004