- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 14, 2006

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI renewed his attack on homosexual “marriage” yesterday, saying Christians must defend marriage as a “pillar of humanity” benefiting both believers and nonbelievers.

Calling on the faithful to stand up for traditional notions of marriage and procreation in the face of moves to recognize same-sex unions, he said: “Such a witness can only stimulate politicians and legislators to safeguard the rights of the family.

“It’s well-known that legal solutions like so-called ‘civil unions’ are gaining ever-greater acceptance, even if, while they exclude the responsibilities of marriage, they claim the same rights,” he said in a speech to the Pontifical Council for the Family.

“Sometimes, there is the wish even to change the definition of marriage to legalize homosexual unions, granting them the right to adopt children.”

The comments were stronger than remarks Benedict made two days ago, which were criticized by some members of Italy’s incoming liberal government as unwanted interference in a political issue.

“The church’s interventions [on homosexual unions] are now becoming daily and really do represent a crusade on parliament and lawmakers, aimed at blocking any discussion of the rights of new couples,” said Franco Grillini, a member of parliament of the Democrats of the Left and honorary chairman of Italy’s homosexual rights movement, Arcigay.

Coalition leader Romano Prodi, who is due to be appointed prime minister this week, included in his election manifesto a promise to legally recognize civil unions, stopping short of introducing homosexual “marriage.” Mr. Prodi has opposed adoption by same-sex couples.

But his coalition is split on the issue, with some wanting greater rights for homosexual couples and some opposed to the move.

“In parliament, there’s a cross-party majority to stop this secular attack on the institution of family based on marriage between man and woman,” said Clemente Mastella, leader of the UDEUR, a small Christian Democrat group in Mr. Prodi’s coalition.

Also yesterday, the Vatican marked the 25th anniversary of the near-fatal assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, holding a Mass to commemorate the late pontiff’s life.

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