Italian catholics say Vatican's same-sex marriage opposition goes too far

Troy Espera | February 19, 2007

ROME — An Italian legislative proposal that would grant some legal rights to same-sex partners has set the stage for a major church-state showdown.

According to Reuters, leading Catholics in Italy warned the Vatican on Thursday it was going too far in opposing a draft bill that recognizes unwed and gay couples, saying the Church should let lawmakers decide freely.

A poll in La Repubblica daily showed the bill is backed by 67 percent of practicing Roman Catholics, even though only 35 percent of them think it should also apply to same-sex couples. Overall, 80 percent of Italians said they support the law.

Catholic News Service reports that supporters say the bill is a compromise proposal that recognizes the rights of cohabiting couples, but without legally recognizing the unions themselves. In other words, they say, this is not a "gay marriage" bill.

Since the bill was approved by Prime Minister Romano Prodi's center-left government last week, Pope Benedict has repeatedly spoken out against any law that, he says, would weaken marriage.

"No human law can subvert the norm written by the Creator without dramatically wounding society in that which constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean weakening the family, penalizing children and making the future of society precarious," the Pope said, reports CNS.

But Reuters reports that Italy's most senior cardinal, Camillo Ruini, went a step further on Monday by announcing he would issue an 'official note' to Catholics, asking them to make a personal commitment to defend marriage and oppose de facto couples.

Former Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, 88, who attends mass each morning and often refers to his conversations with the Virgin Mary, told La Repubblica that the Church must not impose its views on Catholic MPs.

�Should such an intervention take place ... it would destroy the freedom and dignity of Catholic lawmakers in parliament,� he told La Repubblica. �A rigid attitude by the Church would be really damaging.� – Issued by Gay Link Content

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