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Vatican Fears Gay Nuptials On Its Doorstep
by The Associated Press
Posted: September 18, 2005 4:00 pm ET
(Rome) A top Vatican cardinal said in comments published Sunday that proposals to give legal status to unmarried couples can only sow confusion and threaten traditional families. The comments by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, president of the Vatican's health department, came amid a renewed debate in Italy over whether to grant de-facto couples some form of legal recognition.
Romano Prodi, who is expected to challenge Premier Silvio Berlusconi in general elections next year, sparked the debate last week when he said he favored giving legal status to unmarried couples, although he stopped short of saying that should also include same-sex couples.
In an interview Sunday with the La Repubblica daily, Barragan said creating separate juridical pacts outside marriage could compromise "traditional" families, which the Vatican holds are unions between man and woman founded on matrimony.
"You shouldn't give a wrong vision of the family by introducing a legislative form that can corrode or compromise or put families in difficulty," he was quoted as saying. "Rather, we need to help the traditional family, because it's a good for society."
He said individuals were already protected under universal human rights.
"No one denies that everyone, even the components of so-called de-facto couples, should have their human rights recognized. But I don't see why we have to make ad hoc laws ... which in the end can only create confusion," he was quoted as saying.
Prodi made the comments in a letter to Italy's national gay rights association, Arcigay, saying he wanted to make the proposal part of the platform of his center-left Unione coalition.
On Saturday, though, another center-left leader, Francesco Rutelli of the Margherita party, issued a counterproposal, suggesting a contract between partners in a de-facto union that would be private, but could be part of Italy's civil code. He ruled out "gay marriage."
Italy, an overwhelmingly Catholic country that hosts the Vatican, does not recognize unions of unmarried couples, including same-sex relationships. Gay and lesbian associations have been pushing for common law couples to have legal recognition in hopes that the move might pave the way for granting legal status to gay couples as well.
On Saturday, the left-leaning La Repubblica published a poll that found that about 64 percent of Italians favored pacts granting legal rights to unmarried couples, while 30 percent opposed. The poll, by the Atlante Politico Demos-Eurisko firm, found that about 31 percent favored extending those rights to homosexuals, while 29 percent favored "gay marriage."
The poll of 1,542 people was conducted Sept. 13-15. No margin of error was given.
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