Pope denounces effort to equate marriage with other lifestyles
September 15, 2004
VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II told New Zealand bishops Monday that efforts
to equate marriage between man and woman to other forms of
cohabitation violated "God's plan for humanity."
The pope did not specifically mention it, but New Zealand's
parliament has been debating proposed legislation that would grant
"civil union" status to couples – both same-sex and heterosexual –
who live together, giving them many of the same rights as married
Conservative critics have labeled it the "Gay Marriage Bill,"
although it doesn't formally recognize gay marriages and
differentiates between civil unions and marriage.
"Spouses rightly deserve specific and categorical legal
recognition by the state," the pope said, "while any attempt to
equate marriage with other forms of cohabitation violates its
unique role in God's plan for humanity."
The pope spoke of the "challenges currently confronting" the
bishops, and urged them to "defend the sanctity and uniqueness of
The bishop's delegation, making a periodic visit to the Vatican,
was led by Cardinal Thomas Williams, who several months ago
denounced reforming politicians behind the bill as "modern
In his speech, John Paul also lamented secular trends in New
Zealand, in particular weakening of Sunday Mass attendance.
The pope said Sunday must not be "unduly dominated by
entertainment and sport." – Sapa-AP
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