VATICAN—Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, denounced media assertions that his recent comments show Vatican support for homosexual unions.
The archbishop said he was “very surprised” by reports claiming that some of his recent statements signaled an “openness” on the part of the Church to same-sex unions.
On Feb. 6, Vatican Radio asked Archbishop Paglia about his statements in a press conference two days earlier, in which he had spoken about individual rights of inheritance. Some media outlets interpreted these comments as an allusion to gay couples.
“Obviously I am very surprised by what some of the media reports say,” the archbishop responded. He explained that both his words and intentions were misunderstood and added that “they were truly, and perhaps deliberately, derailed.”
“If I could use the image of a train track: the train has gone off the rails,” he said. “And I assure you that when the train derails and doesn’t reach the station, it runs the risk of encountering a cliff.”
He stressed that using existing legislation to protect individual rights is different from “approving certain viewpoints” on gay unions.
Speaking about the recent massive protest in France in defense of marriage, Archbishop Paglia told L’Osservatore Romano on Feb. 5, “It is essential to think hard before making decisions that could have tragic consequences. One cannot try to change the culture itself with a law that doesn’t have unanimous support.”
Issues related to same-sex unions should be addressed in the area of private rights, thus ensuring questions related to inheritance as well, he continued, adding that it is not possible to justify marriage based on sentiments that do not correspond to the relationship between man and woman for the generation of children.
In his statements to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Paglia also voiced solidarity with the bishops of England and Wales after the British House of Commons voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
“The doctrine of the Church on this is very clear,” he said. “In all honesty, it is also a centuries-old legal tradition that crosses all cultures: marriage is between one man and one woman for the formation of a family.”
If society departs from this understanding, he continued, it begins traveling down a road that does not lead to stability.
The archbishop rejected any acts of hatred or injustice against gay individuals, who are also children of God. He recalled the words of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict XVI – in 1986: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons are or have been the objects of malevolent words or violent actions.”
“I don’t think it could be said any clearer,” Archbishop Paglia said. “I truly hope that the family, that precious treasure and patrimony of humanity, can be defended, sustained and helped without distorting its meaning.”