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CFFC in the News - 2003
Vatican Paper Condemns Same-Sex 'Marriage'
1 August 2003
The Vatican came out swinging against homosexual "marriage" yesterday, calling it "a legalization of evil" and saying Catholic politicians have a "moral duty" to oppose it.
The six-page document, "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons" was written by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which clarifies church doctrine.
Its most striking aspect is a warning to Catholic politicians, who are told that any vote for same-sex unions would be "gravely immoral." Politicians should work to repeal any laws in existence because "it is his duty to witness to the truth."
If repeal is not possible, the politician should support "proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law."
No penalties are specified for Catholics who disobey, although in April 2002, the pope reminded U.S. cardinals, during a meeting in Rome, to "publicly ... reprimand individuals who spread dissent."
"The letter is uncompromising," said Russell Hittinger, a Catholic studies professor at the University of Tulsa. "In my studies on Roman documents, this is about as tough as it gets."
"Rome is saying politicians have a responsibility before this happens," he said. "In no way can you cooperate with or compromise with bringing a law into existence that does this."
Same-sex "marriages" are legal in the Netherlands, Belgium and two Canadian provinces. Canada's ruling party says it will implement homosexual "marriage" nationwide soon. Civil partnerships are allowed in Argentina, France, Germany, Norway and other countries.
But 30 U.S. states have laws banning same-sex "marriage" and on Wednesday, President Bush said U.S. law should allow marriage only between a man and a woman.
Leaders of Dignity, a homosexual Catholic caucus, called the statement an "absolute perversion of the Catholic social justice tradition."
"It starts from the premise that all people are not created equal, and that laws should reinforce that inequality," Dignity Executive Director Marianne Duddy said. "This new document is intended to intimidate public officials across the globe into doing what the Vatican has not been able to do on its own - stem the growing tide for justice."
She also criticized a clause in the Vatican statement that condemned adoption by homosexuals as "gravely immoral" and doing "violence" against children. She likened it to human rights violations forbidden by the United Nations.
"To infer that same-sex couples who adopt children 'do violence' to them is outrageous, particularly in context of the clergy-sex scandal," said Miss Duddy, who with her partner is adopting an 18-month-old girl through the Massachusetts foster care system.
Around 15 demonstrators gathered to protest against the document for about an hour yesterday in St. Peter's Square, according to Agence France-Presse. They carried a banner declaring: "No Vatican - No Taliban."
Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, guessed the document would simply fan American fears of dual loyalty on the part of Catholics and Catholic politicians.
"This worries Catholic politicians," she says, "not with what the Vatican has to say - which they will disregard in its entirety - but with what fears it may put in the mind of the electorate in regards to the independence of Catholic politicians. That is, are they answerable to the pope or to the electorate?
"The Vatican is going to do nothing to enforce this statement and the only thing it does is give ammunition to conservative Catholics."
But Pope John Paul II has been neck-deep in politics ever since he exhorted his Polish countrymen in 1979 to stand up to their communist government, said Bob Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican magazine. In 1986, Latin American politicians objected to his condemnation of liberation theology.
"[Same-sex 'marriage'] affects the structure of society," he said. "People have rights, but whether those rights extend to civil marriage, with the same status as heterosexuals, is under debate."
"This is the most fundamental issue the church faces today," said Stephen Safranek, a professor at Ave Maria Law School in Ann Arbor, Mich., who teaches about moral foundations of the law. "The Vatican sees in the Western Hemisphere this huge sea change. They don't want marriage to be open to any interpretation."
The document was dated June 3, the feast day for St. Charles Lwanga and his companions; he and 36 other young Ugandan men who were burned to death June 3, 1886, for resisting sexual overtures from Ugandan King Mwanda, a pedophile.
This article originally appeared in the 1 August 2003 edition of the Washington Times.