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 CNS Story:

PAGLIA-FAMILY Feb-4-2013 (440 words) xxxi

Defend traditional family, rights of others, archbishop says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the Catholic Church opposes legal sanctions against homosexuality and favors legal protections for unmarried people living together, it must defend traditional marriage for the good of society, said the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, council president, said the Catholic Church affirms "the equal dignity of every child of God. No one lacks the dignity of being a child of God, so that is untouchable."

While the church opposes recognizing gay unions as "marriage," he said, it affirms the full dignity of homosexual men and women. "If a country outlawed homosexuality, I would work to overturn it," he said, adding that he believed there are still "20 or 25 countries" that define homosexuality as a crime.

Archbishop Paglia also called for greater efforts to ensure legal protection and inheritance rights for people who are living together, but not married. "To promote justice and to protect the weak," he said, legal means must be found to guarantee rights and regulate inheritance.

"But do not call it marriage," he said.

As an increasing number of states and nations move toward recognizing same-sex unions, he said Western societies "risk making decisions which can have consequences" that people haven't thought about.

"Will the words 'mother' and 'father' disappear from our vocabulary in favor of 'Parent A' and 'Parent B'?" he asked, referring to gay couples and their children. "With millions of only children, will the words 'brother' and 'sister' still have any meaning?"

Meeting journalists at the Vatican Feb. 4, Archbishop Paglia presented several of his council's planned activities for 2013, including coordination of the Oct. 26-27 international Pilgrimage of Families to the Vatican for the Year of Faith.

While the formal enrollment process for the pilgrimage hasn't opened, he said families interested in participating can send an email to roma2013@family.va to request more information.

Archbishop Paglia said those interested in the good of the human person should rejoice over one of the key evolutions in the understanding of marriage over the centuries: the recognition that the union must be based on love between the spouses.

However, he said, "the family is not just about affection." Marriage and true family life also must include the potential to generate new life, to educate children as good human beings and good citizens and to care for the weak.

"Democracy needs solid and stable families," he said. The sharing, caring and sacrificing people learn in their families are what spurs them to extend their defense of the rights of others to the social and political realm, and to protect and care for weaker members of society.


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