PRESS RELEASE July 31, 2003 for immediate release
GAY CATHOLICS ON THREE CONTINENTS CONDEMN VATICAN ATTACK ON GAY UNIONS AND MARRIAGES
Gay Catholics in Europe, the United States and Australia today issued strong protests against a Vatican document, published July 31 with the approval of Pope John Paul 11, entitled, "Considerations regarding proposals to give legislative recognition to unions between homosexual persons".
Michael B Kelly, spokesperson for the Australian "Rainbow Sash Movement" condemned the document as "relentlessly negative, cold-hearted and an insult to the dignity of gay and lesbian persons". He said that while there were no new doctrinal points in it, the "harsh authoritarian tone" used and the demands made on Catholic politicians are "offensive and alarming".
This document characterises sexual expression between "co-habiting homosexual persons" as "evil" and orders politicians to publicly oppose any moves towards "approval or legislation of (this) evil". It claims that "all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions" and that when such legislation is proposed, every Catholic politician "has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favour of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral". In countries where such legal recognition has already been granted, politicians are ordered to oppose this publicly and work for repeal of such legislation.
The document further claims that allowing gay or lesbian couples to adopt children would "mean doing violence to these children". It repeatedly asserts that homosexual unions can never be seen as "in any way similar or even remotely analogous" to marriage and family, and that legally recognising such unions would "devalue" marriage and lead to "grave detriment to the common good".
Mr Kelly said that the document not only totally rejects the actual, loving experience of committed gay couples, but condemns the many legislators who have granted them legal recognition. He claims that it also effectively condemns the tacit acceptance of such legislation given by many Catholic bishops around the world. "In many countries Catholic bishops have quietly, and rightly, supported various types of legislation that have given gay couples basic rights such as hospital visitation, inheritance and so on. They have opposed use of the term "marriage", but have accepted that in a pluralist society committed gay couples deserve basic protection and recognition under the law. This new document condemns this outright. It is major step backwards, and confirms that the Vatican is out of touch - even with many of its best bishops and theologians."
Mr Kelly went on to express alarm at the possible impact the document might have on politicians. "Here we have the Vatican dictating to politicians the way they should vote. Politicians are elected to represent all their people - including their gay constituents, not to do the Vatican's bidding. Attempting to interfere in this way in democratic processes is outrageous, and it shows the Vatican has yet to come to terms with modern, pluralist societies and the rights of all citizens under the law".
One of the most contentious parts of the document deals with adoption of children by gay couples. Mr Kelly stated that many studies have shown that children raised by gay couples tend to be as well-adjusted and happy as any other children. "The Vatican's claim that to have gay couples raising a child is to do "violence" to that child is insulting, inflammatory and blatantly false. Children need stable, loving environments in which to grow, and these can be, and are provided by single parents, extended families, and gay couples as well as the 'nuclear family'. The Church should be affirming and supporting people who are generous and loving enough to want to devote themselves to raising children - not condemning and insulting them".
Mr Kelly said that today's statement by Australia's Rainbow Sash Movement is supported and echoed by Gay Catholic groups in both Europe and the United States. "Around the world gay Catholics are outraged by this harsh and unchristian document. Many other Catholics, including clergy, theologians and church workers will be equally dismayed. We are people of faith, people committed to justice and to the Gospel. We claim the freedom and dignity promised us by Christ, and the right to form relationships filled with joy, integrity and hope. We will not be cowed by these extreme, strident condemnations issued by church power-brokers who are increasingly out of touch with the People of God. We will stand up for ourselves and call the Church to a new openness and a new embrace of human sexuality in all of its diversity and beauty. We need to transform the Church for the sake of future generations".
Mr Kelly concluded by saying that this recent document will deeply damage the moral credibility of the Church. "The Church has some profound and crucial things to say about justice, about the dignity of all people, about the core values and spiritual vision that should inform human living and loving. Tragically, documents like this are so negative, harsh and authoritarian that people walk away in disgust. To regain their credibility Church leaders need to learn to listen, to welcome, to bless and to affirm all who seek to live in love - whether they are gay or straight".
INTERNATIONAL GAY CATHOLIC GROUPS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT:
In the United Kingdom (London): Martin Pendergast
In the United States (New York): Brendan Fay
THE Vatican ANNOUNCEMENT: http://www.vatican.va LINK: ‘LATEST NEWS’