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The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage and the social acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex relationships, but teaches that homosexual persons deserve respect, justice and pastoral care. The Vatican and Pope John Paul II are speaking out against the growing number of places that recognize same-sex marriages. 

Bishops Urge Constitutional Amendment to Protect Marriage

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Administrative Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has called for a constitutional amendment to protect the unique social and legal status of marriage. 

In Catholic belief, “marriage is a faithful, exclusive and lifelong union between one man and one woman, joined as husband and wifein an intimate partnership of life and love,” the 47-bishop committee said in a statement released Sept. 10.

Marriage Day

Marriage Day (Photo credit: Fikra)

 

“What are called ‘homosexual unions,’ because they do not express full human complementarity and because they are inherently nonprocreative, cannot be given the status of marriage,” the committee said.

It warned that “the importance of marriage for children and for society” is under attack in U.S. courts and legislatures and in popular culture and entertainment media, which “often undermine or ignore the essential role of marriage and promote equivalence between marriage and homosexual relationships.”

The Administrative Committee — composed of the USCCB’s executive officers, elected committee chairmen and elected regional representatives — is the highest policy and decision-making body of the bishops apart from the entire body when it meets twice a year in general assembly.

The committee, which met in Washington, did not specify language for a federal marriage amendment.

Rather, it committed the bishops to promoting the “essential role of marriage … in our teaching and preaching, but also in our public policy advocacy at the state and national levels and in the important dialogue about how best to protect marriage and the common good in the U.S. Constitution and in our society as a whole.”

“We offer general support for a federal marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution as we continue to work to protect marriage in state legislatures, the courts, the Congress and other appropriate forums,” it said.

In May, a proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as “the union of a man and a woman” was introduced in Congress.

The bishops cited a recent Vatican document that called legal recognition of same-sex unions “gravely unjust.”

Citing marriage’s unique societal role in the procreation and raising of children, the Vatican said, “The denial of the social and legal status of marriage to forms of cohabitation that are not and cannot be marital is not opposed to justice; on the contrary, justice requires it.”

The Administrative Committee said the church clearly teaches the dignity of homosexual persons and condemns “all forms of unjust discrimination, harassment or abuse.”

The bishops said their defense of marriage focuses “on the importance of marriage, not on homosexuality or other matters.”

The growing U.S. debate over granting marriage rights or equivalent legal status to same-sex unions is part of a contemporary cultural phenomenon across the Western world.

In the United States there have been a number of court and legislative battles over the question of legal benefits for same-sex unions since 1993, when the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the state could not exclude same-sex couples from marriage unless it could show compelling state interests and prove that its marriage laws were narrowly tailored to those interests.

That led to legislation in Hawaii granting domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples.

Vermont adopted similar legislation in 2000 following a similar court ruling there, and a case currently before the Massachusetts Supreme Court challenges that state’s marriage laws.

In the wake of the Hawaii court decision a number of other states amended their marriage laws to ban or strengthen existing bans on same-sex “marriage,” but provision of equivalent benefits and protections to same-sex partnerships has increased on a number of fronts, including companies and some local governments deciding to provide spousal benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

Canada’s federal government has been struggling since July to create new laws implementing a Canadian Supreme Court decision that the traditional definition of marriage violates the equality provision of that nation’s constitution.

Responding to a legislative proposal to redefine marriage as “the lawful union of two persons to the exclusion of all others,” the bishops of Canada Sept. 10 urged people to oppose “a redefinition of marriage that includes same-sex partners.”

When the Dutch Parliament voted to recognize same-sex unions as marriages in 2000, Pope John Paul II denounced the decision.

Calling marriage between a man and a woman a fundamental part of human reality and the basic unit of society, the pope said, “No other form of relationship between persons can be considered as an equivalent to this natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love children are born.”

In 1996 the heads of two bishops’ committees — domestic policy and marriage and family — issued a joint statement firmly opposing any “attempts to grant the legal status of marriage to a relationship between persons of the same sex.”

The following year the bishops’ conference sent all bishops a 77-page resource paper addressing the pastoral, legal, social and theological issues posed in the debate over treating same-sex unions the same as marriages.  

Source: Catholic News Service 

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By VICTOR L. SIMPSON, AP

Pope Benedict XVI appealed for peace Friday at a time of deep turmoil in the Middle East, calling the flow ofweapons into Syriaa “grave sin” as the country endures a bloody civil war.

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general audition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pope arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit despite the recent unrest in region — including the war in neighboring Syria, a mob attack that killed several Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador, and a stringof violent protests across the region stemming from an anti-Islam film.

“I have come to Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace,” the pope said upon his arrival in Beirut.

“As a friend of God and as a friend of men.”

But just hours after his arrival, violence erupted in northern Lebanon over the anti-Islam film produced in the United States called “Innocence of Muslims.” The movie ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

According to Lebanese security officials, a crowd angry over the film set fire Friday to a KFC and an Arby’s restaurant in the northeastern city of Tripoli, sparking clashes with police. Police then opened fire, killing one of the attackers, the officials said.

At least 25 people were wounded in the melee, including 18 police who were hit with stones and glass. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to brief the media.

Lebanese authorities enacted stringent security measures for the pope, suspending weapons permits except for politicians’ bodyguards and confining the visit to central Lebanon and the northern Christian areas. Army and police patrols were stationed along the airport road.

Speaking to reporters aboard his plane, the pope, who is 85, said he never considered canceling the trip for security reasons, adding that “no one ever advised (me) to renounce this trip and personally, I have never considered this.”

The pope denounced religious fundamentalism, calling it “a falsification of religion.”

He also praised the Arab Spring uprisings, which have ousted four long-time dictators.

“It is the desire for more democracy, for more freedom, for more cooperation and for a renewed Arab identity,” the pope said.

The turmoil stemming from the Arab Spring has deeply unsettled the Middle East’s Christian population, which fears being in the cross-fire of rival Muslim groups.

Lebanon has the largest percentage of Christians in the Mideast — nearly 40 percent of Lebanon’s 4 million people, with Maronite Catholics being the largest sect. Lebanon is the only Arab country with a Christian head of state.

Benedict, the third pope to visit Lebanon after Paul VI in 1964 and John Paul II in 1997, will be addressing concerns by the region’s bishops over the plight of Christians in the Middle East. War, political instability and economic hardships have driven thousands from their traditional communities, dating to early Christianity in the Holy Land, Iraq and elsewhere.

Also Friday, the pope called for an end to weapons imports to Syria. Syria’s rebels have said they desperately need weapons to fight Syrian President Bashar Assad‘s authoritarian regime.

“The import of weapons must be stopped, because without the weapons import the war could not continue,” he said. “Instead of the weapons import, which is a grave sin, we should import ideas of peace and creativity and find solutions to accept each other with our differences.”

The pontiff was welcomed by top leaders, including the Lebanese president, prime minister and parliament speaker, as well as Christian and Muslim religious leaders. Cannons fired a 21-shots salute for the pope.

“Let me assure you that I pray especially for the many people who suffer in this region,” he said upon arrival.

After a ceremony at the airport, Bendict’s convoy drove through Beirut as army aircraft flew overhead for protection. The pope was on his way to the mountain town of Harisa, where he will stay at the Vatican embassy.

The papal visit comes amid fears that Syria’s conflict might spill over to Lebanon. Clashes in Lebanon between Syrian groups over the past months have claimed the lives of more than two dozen people and left scores wounded.

The Christian community in Lebanon is divided between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Among Assad’s supporters is former Lebanese prime minister and army commander Michel Aoun, a strong ally of the militant Hezbollah group.

Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah welcomed the pontiff’s visit, describing it as “extraordinary and historic.” “I cannot forget the sad and painful events which have affected your beautiful country along the years,” Benedict XVI said, referring to Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war that left about 150,000 people dead.

“Looking at your country, I also come symbolically to all countries of the Middle East as a pilgrim of peace, as a friend of God and as a friend of all inhabitants of all the countries of the region, whatever their origins and beliefs,” he said.

Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi did not rule out that the pope would meet some supporters of Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group that has risen steadily over the decades from anti-Israel resistance group into Lebanon’s most powerful military and political force. The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Lombardi declined to say what the Vatican’s position is on the group.

Source; Associated Press

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