Pope says same-sex unions degrade marriage

March 01, 2004

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II again stressed his opposition to gay unions Saturday, saying they "degrade" the true sense of marriage between man and woman. He urged Catholic and non-Catholic authorities alike to stop approving them.

It was the second time in a week that John Paul has raised the issue, which is making headlines in the United States as a national debate rages stemming from a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that prohibiting same-sex marriages violated that state's constitution.

In his comments, John Paul said a family based on marriage between man and 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 shouldn't contribute to legislation that is 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.

John Paul has pressed his point on several occasions since then, most recently on Thursday when he called for the support of the "authentic" Christian family, which he defined as based on marriage between man and woman.

The issue has been in the headlines in America in recent weeks as gay couples rush to get marriage licenses in cities like San Francisco and New Paltz, New York, where there has been a legalization push following the Massachusetts court decision. At the same time, the debate has spilled into the U.S. presidential race with President Bush saying this week that he would back a federal constitutional amendment to bar such marriages. – Sapa-AP

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Pope calls for support of the family as union of man and woman [27/02/2004]



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