The Vatican today (Thursday 31 July) released a document restating the teaching of the Catholic church on homosexuality and addressing the issue of legal recognition for same sex unions. The statement from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, seeks to "reiterate essential points on this question, provide arguments drawn from reason" and "give direction to Catholic politicians" while addressing "all persons committed to promoting and defending the common good of society".
In a covering letter, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger the Prefect of the Congregation stresses the "fundamental and irreplaceable role of marriage and the family for the common good of society."
His views were echoed by Archbishop Mario Conti of Glasgow who welcomed the guidance from Rome, which he described as "a clear, timely and balanced document which sets out arguments for the Church's position drawn from reason, jurisprudence, tradition and revelation"
In a warning shot to Scottish politicians who may consider this issue later this year, he added: "The only privileged legal union in society is the family, attempts to give equivalent rights and legal recognition to other unions would be subversive of the right order - it is not for the law to reconstruct humanity.
On the question of inheritance and other rights he said; "It is important that all citizens are able to protect their legitimate interests, many existing legal mechanisms allow this without compromising the primacy of marriage as the most secure and stable building block of civil society."
Archbishop Conti stressed the importance of Catholic politicians being guided by their faith in dealing with such legislation, saying "Politicians have a first duty to their conscience before party policy."
Commenting on political developments in Scotland, the Church's parliamentary Officer, John Deighan said; "It is to be hoped that the Scottish Parliament will be guided by public opinion in Scotland on same sex marriages and adoption rights and will resist the temptation to 'tag along' with Westminster legislation." He added "To duck this issue and hide behind decisions made in Westminster would be a slap in the face for Scottish democracy and the reputation of our Parliament."
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A Synopsis of the Congregation's document is given below.
Civil laws are structuring principles of man's life in society. Recognition of same sex unions makes them institutions in the legal structure leading to a profound change in the entire organisation of society contrary to the common good.
Homosexual unions lack the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family. They do not contribute to survival of the human race. They lack the complementarity of the sexes necessary for normal development of children who would be placed in the care of homosexual persons. This would be a form of violence on the children by placing them in an environment not conducive to their full human development.
Legal recognition would be a redefinition of marriage, making it an institution devoid of essential reference to factors linked to heterosexuality; for example procreation and raising children.
Homosexual unions are not analogous or similar to God s plan for marriage and family. They are contrary to the natural moral order and revelation. The homosexual person requires to be treated with compassion and sensitivity but the homosexual inclination remains objectively disordered.
Granting legal recognition to homosexual unions will expose the young to er roneous ideas about sexuality and marriage, undermine public morality and contribute to the spread of the phenomenon.
The State would be failing in its duty to promote and defend marriage as an institution essential to the common good.
Differentiating between persons is unacceptable only when contrary to justice. Justice required differentiating between marriage and other forms of relationship. Homosexual unions are harmful to society especially if their impact on society were to increase.
Legal recognition is not required to safeguard individual rights. Like all citizens, homosexual persons can make provisions in law to protect their interests. It would be unjust to sacrifice the common good and just laws on the family in order to protect personal goods that can and must be guaranteed in ways that do not harm the body of society.
Politicians must clearly express opposition to recognition of homosexual unions and vote against it.