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Pope Benedict
rails against proposed rights for gay couples

Pope Benedict
rails against proposed rights for gay couples


Pope Benedict spoke out against same-sex marriage on Thursday, a topic that Italy's incoming center-left government will likely soon confront.

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)

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