Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Times UK: Vatican opposes de-criminalising same sex unions


1.12.8 by
New UN declaration puts pressure on states that do not recognise same sex marriages, according to the Vatican

Monsignor Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the UN, said the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church forbade "unjust discrimination" against homosexuals. However outlawing discrimination by means of a UN declaration meant that states which did not recognise same sex marriages would come under pressure to do so.

All countries of the European Union have signed a draft declaration drawn up by France, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency, condemning "discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity". France is due to submit the draft declaration at the UN General Assembly on 10 December, the sixtieth anniversary of the UN declaration of human rights.

Over 80 countries in the world currently outlaw same-sex relations, with punishments range from short prison sentences to life imprisonment and even death by execution. The UN declaration will not be binding, but gay rights movements hope it will lead to a UN resolution. The French minister of human rights and foreign affairs, Rama Yade, said that the EU should also "take the lead in stopping violence against women worldwide."

The Vatican fiercely opposes same sex unions, and has also taken steps to root out active homosexuals from the clergy in the wake of sexual abuse scandals. In October it went further and issued a statement declaring that even chaste gay men should be barred from the priesthood.

The document, "Guidelines for the Use of Psychology in the Admission and Formation of Candidates for the Priesthood," released by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, reiterated that men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies were unworthy of ordination, and urged seminaries to enlist the aid of psychologists in screening candidates for homosexuality and other "psychic disturbances."

The Catholic Church has been plagued by clergy sexual-abuse scandals since 2002, when allegations of abuse surfaced in Boston and later spread to dioceses. The scandal, in which thousands of victims have alleged they were molested or raped by priests, has cost the church in the US alone more than two billion dollars in legal settlements.

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexual acts are sinful, homosexual "orientation" is not. However Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, head of the Congregation for Catholic Education, said homosexuality was a "deviation," "irregularity" and "wound" that conflicts with the "spiritual paternity" essential to the priesthood.

A 2005 Vatican document said men with "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies should not be ordained. However those with a "transitory problem" could become priests if they could show they had overcome them for a period of at least three years.

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