Pope condemns gay marriages as fake and anarchic
06 Jun 2005 19:50:57 GMT
(Adds quote from gay community leader, 9th paragraph)
By Philip Pullella
ROME, June 6 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, in his first clear pronouncement on gay marriages since his election, on Monday condemned same-sex unions as fake and expressions of “anarchic freedom” that threatened the future of the family.
The Pope, who was elected in April, also condemned divorce, artificial birth control, trial marriages and free-style unions, saying all of these practices were dangerous for the family.
“Today’s various forms of dissolution of marriage, free unions, trial marriages as well as the pseudo-matrimonies between people of the same sex are instead expressions of anarchic freedom which falsely tries to pass itself off as the true liberation of man,” he said.
The Pope spoke to families at Rome’s St. John’s Cathedral on an issue that has become highly controversial around the world, particularly in Europe and the United States.
In April, parliament in traditionally Catholic Spain gave initial approval to a law legalising gay marriage. It is widely expected to be approved by the Senate and to become law.
Gay marriages are already legal in several European countries.
However, just last week, California’s Assembly killed off a bill that would have allowed gay marriage in the most populous U.S. state. U.S. President George Bush favours a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.
The Pope, who as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the Vatican’s doctrinal department for more than two decades, said “pseudo freedoms” such as gay marriages were based on what he called the “banalisation of the human body” and of man himself.
Aurelio Mancuso, president of Arcigay, Italy’s largest gay rights group, hit back at the Pope. “Ratzinger pretends not to understand that gay unions are no threat to heterosexual marriages,” he said in a statement.
FAMILY’S VITAL ROLE
The Pope, who read his 14-page speech in a steady, professorial manner while seated at a writing table, spoke of the family’s vital role for the future of society.
“Matrimony and the family are not, in reality, a casual sociological construction or the fruit of specific historic and economic situations,” he said.
In a clear reference to contraception, the Pope said couples went against the nature of love itself when they “systematically shut off” the possibility of “the gift of life”.
The 78-year-old Pope’s wide-ranging speech, interrupted by applause several times, touched on themes such as human sexuality and freedom. It clearly showed his background as one of the Roman Catholic Church’s leading theologians.
“The greatest expression of freedom is not the search for pleasure,” he said, adding that society seemed to want to tear down the moral goalposts he said were needed for its future.
“Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to (moral) education is the overwhelming presence in our society and culture of a type of relativism that recognises nothing as definitive…,” he said.
Ratzinger has already backed a controversial campaign by bishops who have urged voters to boycott an emotionally-charged referendum in Italy this weekend that would lift bans on embryo research.
The Pope’s words on Monday were no surprise. In an address to fellow cardinals before the start of the conclave that elected him in April, he denounced what he called an “anything goes” mentality that marked modern times.