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PAGLIA-RIGHTS Feb-8-2013 (340 words) Follow-up. xxxi

Vatican official says his defense of gays' rights was misunderstood

Archbishop Paglia (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said his defense of the dignity of homosexual persons and their individual rights was misinterpreted, perhaps intentionally.

"It is one thing to verify whether in existing laws one can find norms that would safeguard individual rights. It's another thing to approve certain expectations," Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, council president, told Vatican Radio Feb. 6.

At a Vatican news conference Feb. 4, Archbishop Paglia had insisted that only a lifelong union of a man and a woman could be termed a marriage.

The archbishop also said the church's affirmation of the full dignity of all human beings led him to oppose laws that outlaw homosexuality. In addition, he said that "to promote justice and to protect the weak," greater efforts were needed to ensure legal protection and inheritance rights for people living together, though not married. "But do not call it marriage," he said.

His remarks from the news conference were reported around the world under headlines such as "Vatican recognizes the rights of gay couples."

"Obviously, I was very surprised by how some media reported" those comments, he told Vatican Radio. "Not only were my words not understood," he said, "they were derailed, perhaps even knowingly."

While reaffirming his opposition to so-called "gay marriage" and his full support of the British and French bishops currently fighting proposed legal recognition of homosexual unions, in the interview he also reiterated church teaching against unjust discrimination toward homosexual persons.

Archbishop Paglia quoted from a 1986 document on the pastoral care of homosexual persons signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger: "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action."

"Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church's pastors wherever it occurs," the document said. "It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law."


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