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 CNS Story:

POPE-FRANCE Nov-19-2012 (430 words) With photo. xxxi

Protecting marriage, human life part of serving common good, pope says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholics are called to serve the common good of society, including by protecting traditional marriage and defending human life, Pope Benedict XVI told bishops from France.

Being Catholic means being faithful "to the moral teaching of the church" and having "the courage to demonstrate their Christian convictions -- without arrogance, but with respect -- in the various spheres in which they work," the pope said Nov. 17 as he welcomed a group of bishops making their periodic "ad limina" visits to the Vatican.

"With the bishops, they must pay attention to proposals for civil laws that can undermine: the safeguarding of marriage between a man and a woman, the protection of human life from conception to death, and the correct orientation of bioethics in faithfulness to the documents of the magisterium," the pope said.

In several French cities Nov. 17-18, thousands of Catholics took to the streets to protest government plans to legalize same-sex marriage. President Francois Hollande said he wanted to legalize gay unions by mid-2013.

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris told the Vatican newspaper Nov. 17 that the church has been expressing its opposition to the proposed law and "we have warned about the dangers" such a change can bring.

In the interview with L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican paper, he said the law, which would include allowing gay couples to adopt, "risks producing devastating effects," particularly for children who would grow up not having both a male and female parent.

Early in November, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, talked about gay marriage proposals in Spain, France and several U.S. states.

In an editorial comment for Vatican Radio, Father Lombardi said it is "clear that in Western countries there is a widespread tendency to modify the classic vision of marriage between a man and woman, or rather to try to give it up, erasing its specific and privileged legal recognition compared to other forms of union."

"It is not, in fact, a question of avoiding unfair discrimination for homosexuals, since this must and can be guaranteed in other ways," he said.

The history and development of modern marriage between one man and one woman was "an achievement of civilization," he said. If it is not what is best for individuals and for society, "why not also contemplate freely chosen polygamy and, of course, not to discriminate, polyandry," which is when a woman has more than one husband.

The Catholic Church, he said, will not stop urging society to recognize the special place of marriage between one man and one woman.


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