NY Times, March 13, 2007
Politicians Bound by Church Teachings, Pope Says
Filed at 8:31 a.m. ET
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Church's opposition to gay marriage is
``non-negotiable'' and Catholic politicians have a moral duty to
oppose it, as well as laws on abortion and euthanasia, Pope Benedict
said in a document issued on Tuesday.
In a 140-page booklet on the workings of a synod that took place at
the Vatican in 2005 on the theme of the Eucharist, the 79-year-old
German Pope also re-affirmed the Catholic rule of celibacy for
In the ``Apostolic Exhortation'' Benedict says all believers had to
defend what he calls fundamental values but that the duty was
``especially incumbent'' for those in positions of power.
He said these included ``respect for human life, its defense from
conception to natural death, the family built on marriage between a
man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the
promotion of the common good in all its forms.''
``These values are not negotiable,'' he said.
``Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of
their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly
bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce laws
inspired by values grounded in human nature,'' he said.
Gay marriage is legal in several European countries, including
predominantly Catholic Spain, and Italy is currently severely divided
over the issue of whether to give more rights to unmarried couples,
The Pope's words were also applicable to countries such as the United
States, where some Catholic politicians have said they are opposed to
abortion but felt bound to support pro-choice legislation because they
represent many people.
This was an issue in the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, when
Democratic candidate John Kerry, a Catholic, supported abortion
The Pope implied local bishops could not turn a blind eye to such
politicians. ``Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values
as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them,'' he
Some bishops in the United States have refused to give communion to
Catholic politicians who back abortion rights.
The Pope also reaffirmed the Church's law on celibacy in an all
male-priesthood, calling it ``a priceless treasure.''
Liberal Catholic groups have called for celibacy to become optional
for priests in the Catholic Church, saying this would help ease the
shortage of priests in many areas.
He also re-affirmed that Catholics who divorce and remarry cannot
receive communion. The Church does not recognize divorce.
In another section, Benedict lamented that many Catholic priests did
not know Latin, the official language of the Church.
He said Latin should be used in some prayer sections of large open-air
masses held at international gatherings ``to express more clearly the
unity and universality of the Church.''
He said he wanted to see more Latin and more Gregorian chant used in
``Certainly, as far as the liturgy is concerned, we cannot say that
one song is as good as another,'' he said.