Archbishop 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
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