Catholic World News News Feature
Vatican opposes Jerusalem gay-pride parade November 08, 2006
The Holy See has called for the cancellation of a "gay pride" march scheduled to take place in Jerusalem on November 10.
The Vatican press office, in a statement released November 8, said the demonstration in Jerusalem would be "an affront to the sentiments" of believers, and religious principles would be "systematically offended" in a city that is sacred to the great monotheistic faiths.
The Vatican announcement indicated that the Pope's representative in Israel has entered a formal plea with the Israeli foreign ministry for cancellation of the event.
In his presentation to Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Archbishop Antonio Franco, the apostolic nuncio in the Holy Land, argued that the rights to free speech and free assembly should be balanced against the inevitable offense to religious believers. The Vatican envoy noted that "it is clear that the gay pride program in Jerusalem will be offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims, and Christians." The Vatican representative called attention to agreements between the Holy See and Israeli leaders, recognizing the "sacred character" of Jerusalem and promising the preservation of the holy sites of all faiths. To fulfill that commitment, Archbishop Franco said, the Israeli government should "use its influence" to persuade government officials that they should reconsider their approval for the gay-pride parade.
Israeli procurator general Menahem Mazouz has given his approval to the gay-pride parade, citing the government's commitment to free speech. He nevertheless asked the organizers of the event to show "discretion" in their behavior, avoiding any risk of desecration of the holy sites.
Moshe Amar, the Sephardic grand rabbi of Jerusalem, had earlier voiced his own opposition to the parade, and wrote to Pope Benedict XVI urging the Pontiff to join in protesting the event. In past years the gay-pride parade had been held in Tel Aviv.