Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Catholic World News News Feature

Pope rebukes Italian officials on civil-union proposal, RU-486 January 12, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI spoke out once more in defense of human life and the family on January 12, expressing his opposition to a proposal for recognition of civil unions in Italy and to the use of the abortion pill RU-486.

Pope Benedict made his points indirectly, but unmistakably, in an audience with political leaders from Rome and the surrounding Lazio region. The Pope traditionally meets with local political authorities at the beginning of each year. In today's private audience, the Pope spoke with Benedict received Piero Marrazzo, president of the regional administration of Lazio; Mayor Walter Veltroni of Rome; and Enrico Gasbarra, president of the provincial administration of Rome. All three are affiliated with the political Left in Italy.

After thanking the public officials for expressions of sympathy at the death of Pope John Paul II, and their cooperation with Vatican plans for the papal funeral and the conclave that followed, the Holy Father turned directly to the crisis in family life.

Pope Benedict stressed that "marriage and the family are not a chance sociological construction." On the contrary, he said, "the right relationship between man and woman is rooted in the essential core of the human being," and the state's recognition of that relationship is essential to the health of society. "What we are talking about here are not norms peculiar to Catholic morality, but elementary truths about our shared humanity," the Pope continued.

In a clear reference to the proposal to recognize civil unions-- known as "PACS" in Italy-- the Pontiff warned that it would be a "grave error" to grant "inappropriate forms of legal recognition, for which there is no real social need, to forms of union" other than marriage.

Next the Pope challenged the political leaders by underlining their duty to defend human life. That duty applies particularly to "the protection of nascent human life," he said. He decried the introduction of drugs "that hide the severity of abortion." Here it was evident that the Holy Father was speaking about the introduction of the abortion pill RU-486 in Italy.

Before concluding his talk, the Pope called attention to the aging of the Italian population, and urged the civic leaders to protect the elderly, particularly in light of efforts to cut down the costs of medical care. He reminded the Roman officials of how Pope John Paul, in the last days of his life, had dramatically illustrated the value of suffering and the dignity of those in advanced illness.