Thank God, Fr. Lombardi of the Holy See’s press office is able to come to the rescue of the fumble with the issue of the UN declaration for the decriminalization of homosexuality. Gay and Lesbians have understandably been concerned with the fact that the Catholic Church appears to be siding with the most extreme of Islamic States.
Our Church’s positions in this area, although not always reflecting the best of science, psychology or even public relations, obviously has a deep richness to offer. The distinctions between unjust discrimination and the use of a “hot topic” to advance a political agenda requires subtle and clear thinking.
The Holy See’s representative at the UN does not seem to have been able to convey these distinctions to the media. Perhaps they didn’t care to listen… but when your role is diplomacy you need to find a way. Perhaps Fr. Lombardi is that way. The Academia (the Holy See’s diplomatic training centre) needs to instill even more that it’s not always about being right or correct… it’s also about the perception people have of the Church and its beliefs.
Below are the welcomed comments from the Vatican press office as reported by Australia’s CathNews.com.
“The Church is contrary to legislation that criminalises homosexuality,” Holy See spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said as debate raged over an earlier Vatican statement that same sex unions should not be decriminalised.
Fr Lombardi said the Catholic Church is clearly against considering homosexuality a crime, but is wary of international declarations that use the issue to promote a political agenda based on sexual orientation, Catholic News Service reports.
He was responding to questions at a Vatican press conference.
In early December, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore drew criticism from gay rights groups when he said the Vatican opposed a proposed UN declaration to endorse the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Archbishop Migliore said such a declaration might be used to put pressure on or discriminate against countries that do not recognise same sex marriage.
Fr Lombardi, in his latest comments to reporters, said the Vatican was not conducting a battle against the United Nations or weakening its opposition to discrimination against homosexuals, which is clearly stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“There is no question that the Church is contrary to legislation that criminalises homosexuality,” Fr Lombardi said.
The Church’s position stems from its respect for the rights and dignity of every person and explicitly excludes “any unjust discrimination on the basis of homosexuality,” he said.
He noted that Archbishop Migliore’s comments were made in response to a question about a draft declaration that had yet to be presented at the United Nations or in any public forum.
He said Archbishop Migliore’s point was that it’s one thing to argue against discrimination and criminalisation regarding homosexuality, but another to contend that anyone who makes a distinction based on sexual orientation is considered an adversary of human rights.
Specifically, Archbishop Migliore expressed the fear that the draft declaration could lead to a situation in which “states that do not recognise same sex unions as ‘marriage’ will be pilloried and put under pressure” to do so.