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European Press Review: The Vatican Defiant

Criticism was the order of the day on European op-ed pages after the Holy See urged Catholic lawmakers to oppose legalizing gay marriages.

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Same-sex marriages: not if the Catholic Church can stop it

“There’s no use talking about it too long,” wrote the Austrian liberal Der Standard newspaper, “this Catholic Church cannot be saved." The attitudes towards homosexuality and gay partnerships that the Church had long had and only now published in a 12-page document approved by Pope John Paul II seemed like a declaration from the past, the paper said. Everything we have learned about how people live and feel over the past hundred years -- which should have led an enlightened society to accept tolerant values -- has apparently not reached the Vatican, observed the paper. “This is like a statement made by scholars who have been locked away for years in a heavenly dungeon.”

The German paper Neue Presse from Hanover did not even feign surprise over the Vatican’s statement. “You can still count on the old men in the heart of Rome. Like a rock in the middle of an inferno, the Vatican is defiant despite all the developments in modern society.” Same-sex marriage? “No thanks!” was Catholic leaders' battle cry. The paper said the Vatican’s was going to far when it urged Catholic politicians around the world to oppose legislation permitting same-sex marriages. The arguments were as outdated as they were absurd, it contended. “In the modern times, just what exactly is this so-called “natural moral law” that homosexuals allegedly violate?" the paper asked.

The Italian daily Corriere della Sera began by defending the Catholic Church, pointing out that the state is not the church. Legal institutions are responsible for deciding if and when same-sex partnerships would be legalized. At the same time, the paper wrote, Catholics have the right to express their views on the subject, just like everyone else.

Salzburger Nachrichten in Austria was less understanding towards the Church. "The Vatican is urging intolerance and hate," it wrote. In circulating the document publicly, the Church was exposing its own fear of a phenomenon which it could never openly face due to its general condemnation of sexuality in forms that religious law could not control, the paper concluded.

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