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Pope Benedict
rails against proposed rights for gay couples

Pope Benedict
            rails against proposed rights for gay couples

Pope Benedict,
speaking out on a topic that Italy's incoming center-left
government will likely have to confront, on Thursday
condemned same-sex marriage and legal recognition of
unwed couples. The 79-year-old German pope immediately
came under fire from some leftists who accused him of
trying to write the country's political agenda, the Reuters
news agency reports.

The pope,
speaking to a conference on marriage and the family,
reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church's position that
marriage must be a union of a man and a woman and open
to procreation. "Only the rock of total and
irrevocable love between a man and a woman is capable of
being the foundation of building a society that
becomes a home for all mankind," he said. Benedict
told the group that marriage is for a man and a woman
"who are open to the transmission of life and thus
cooperate with God in the generation of new human beings."

The coalition of
incoming prime minister Romano Prodi promises some form
of recognition for unmarried couples but has stopped short
of openly supporting same-sex marriage as part of its
program. However, some coalition parties back greater
rights for gay couples, including marriage, and the
issue is widely expected to surface sooner or later
after the government is sworn in next week.

Franco Grillini,
a leftist parliamentarian who is gay, accused the pope
of trying "to write a political agenda" and of "ignoring the
rights of million of Italians who live together." Vladimir
Luxuria, one of Europe's first transgender lawmakers
and a member of Prodi's coalition, went further in
criticizing the pope, saying it is the duty of a lay
state to "recognize and regulate" same-sex unions.

Italy's Catholic
Church has already served notice to the center left that
it will fight any move to recognize civil partnership for
unwed straight and gay couples. Some in the center
left support a form of legal recognition similar to
that available in France, which in 1999 granted all
couples the right to form civil unions and have the right to
joint social security, limited inheritance rights, and
other benefits.

But in his
address the pope took direct aim at such formal recognition
of couples who are not married. "Today, it has become
urgent to avoid confusion between [marriage] and other
types of unions which are based on a love that is
weak," he said.

Luxuria
criticized the pope for suggesting that homosexual love is
weaker than heterosexual love. Same-sex civil unions
or even marriage are already legal in several European
countries, including traditionally Catholic Spain. The
United Kingdom has adopted a law allowing gays to
formalize their relationships as well. (Reuters)

Tags: World, World

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