A new Vatican dictionary describing homosexuality as a condition "without any social value" was denounced by an Italian gay rights leader Monday as insulting and cruel. The Vatican published the 1,000-page Lexicon of words and phrases like reproductive rights, gender, and other terms dealing with sexuality in an effort to clarify what it says are neutral-sounding terms that can mask meanings contradictory to Roman Catholic teachings.
Lexicon reflects Vatican teaching that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered," and Pope John Paul II has said such acts are "contrary to natural law." The church, however, says homosexuals should be treated with compassion and dignity. The dictionary counsels against "stigmatizing" as homophobic those who raise questions about homosexuality.
But leading gay rights activist Franco Grillini said the dictionary makes plain "the pathological homophobic obsession of the Catholic Church.... In my opinion, it's almost racist, and it is at the limit of cruelty." Grillini wrote on his Web site Sunday that Lexicon moves "from homophobic
invective to insult against homosexuals and homosexuality."
Earlier this year Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo said the Vatican decided to compile the work after hearing complaints from nongovernmental organizations about "ambiguous" terms used at the United Nations and other international organizations. The Vatican long has been at odds with the United Nations over policies it believes contradict church teaching. For example, the Vatican often opposes U.N. documents concerning sex education and the use of condoms as a way to prevent HIV infection.