Cardinal says Catholic Church will never bless gay marriage

Thu Oct 9, 2014 1:49pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A leading Vatican cardinal said on Thursday the Roman Catholic Church will never bless gay marriage, wading into a controversy over the issue in Italy and other countries.

On Tuesday, Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano ordered mayors to stop recognizing the validity of gay marriages performed outside the country, prompting protests from rights groups and local officials.

"We have to be honest," Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the Vatican's highest ranking expert on Church law, said on Thursday when asked if he could foresee the Church ever granting "some sort of blessing" for gay couples.

"For us, and not just for us but for human culture in general, marriage is between a man and a woman," he told a briefing on a synod, or assembly, of some 200 Roman Catholic bishops discussing family matters.

The cardinal said the Church did not judge homosexual couples, regarding them as people of good faith.

"But to bless this type of union ... to say that they are like (heterosexual) marriages, never. This is simply for reasons of logic and identity. To bless them is not part of the way we see Christian doctrine," he said.

Pope Francis has said the Church must be more compassionate with homosexuals, saying last year: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge."

But he also reaffirmed Church teaching that while gays should be treated with respect and homosexual tendencies are not sinful, homosexual acts are.   Continued...

Italian Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio arrives to attend a prayer at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi