03/29/2007, 00.00
ITALY

In the name of the family no to civil unions, say Italian bishops

Christian politicians should cast their vote against bills that legalise civil unions, including homosexual unions. The bishops’ statement is not interference but a balm for the good of society.

Rome (AsiaNews) – The Italian Bishops’ Conference has released a statement urging Italians, especially Italian Catholics, to reassert the importance of the family now more than ever and oppose a bid for the legal recognition of civil unions, including same-sex unions. In their view such recognition is “unacceptable in principle, and presents a social and educational danger.”

Reiterating the Pope’s teachings and those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, they said that it would be “incomprehensible” for a Catholic politician to cast a vote in favour of a civil-union proposal. They call on all politically active Christians “to vote against any bill” that would sanction it.

Like all other European societies, Italian society is experiencing anticlerical attacks; any intervention by bishops is seen as “interference” in violation of the state’s secular nature. Bishops, for their part, claim they have a right and duty “to bring [their] contribution to the common good.”

In their statement, the bishops assert first of all the value of the family for the individual and society. “Everyone, before becoming anything else, is born a child, and a child comes from a couple made up of a man and a woman. Giving security to parents’ affection and being brought into this complex world by them is an immeasurable heritage that provides security and trust in life. This heritage is guaranteed by the family based on marriage because of the commitment it brings; the commitment to fidelity between spouses and love to educate children.”

The existence of the family is an irreplaceable resource for society, protected by the Italian Constitution (cf Sect. 29 and 31). First of all, for the good of procreation, only the family that is open to life can be considered society’s real nucleus because it guarantees continuity and care for all generations. It is therefore in the interest of society and the state that the family be strong and able to grow in the most balanced way possible.”

”Legalising civil unions,” the statement notes, “would take away from marriage its uniqueness which alone justifies the rights that accrue to married couples and married couples alone. In any case, history teaches us that laws shape mindsets and habits.”

In post-modern style, in Italy as elsewhere there is a growing focus on “rights”: sexual rights, abortion, euthanasia, embryo manipulation, homosexual marriage.

On homosexual couples, the statement says that if it is dangerous to undermine marriage, it is “even more dangerous to give equal legal status to homosexual unions because in this case, it would deny sex differences, which are impossible to overcome.”

Whilst reaffirming “respect” and “pastoral concern” for everyone, including homosexuals, the bishops said that “the Law was never meant to grant legal or ideological recognition to every type of union, but rather was designed to guarantee public responses to social needs that go beyond the private dimension of one's existence.”

For this reason, “legal protection” for people who live together can be provided “within the framework of individual rights without coming up with a new legal construct that would stand side by side with marriage and the family and which would cause more damage than it is meant to alleviate.”

Finally, the bishops mentioned the encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis (n.83), which calls upon politicians to “introduce and back laws that are inspired by values based on human nature,” including the “family based on the marriage between a man and a woman.”

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