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FOXNEWS.COM (U.S.), December 9, 2008


By Joseph Abrams

Journalists and activist groups are blasting the Vatican for what they say is its "grotesque" opposition to a U.N. declaration on gay rights — even though only a small collection of countries has supported the measure.

The Roman Catholic Church is facing a barrage of protests and searing editorials for opposing a French-sponsored decree that calls for an end to discrimination based on sexual or gender identity. The U.N. hopes to abolish summary executions, arbitrary arrests and "the deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights" of gays.

The Church's opposition to the measure has enraged gay-rights activists, who are mobilizing nationwide protests at Catholic sites in Italy. Members of Italy's largest gay-rights group, Arcigay, gathered inside the Vatican on Saturday, hanging nooses around their necks as they accused the Church of being an "accomplice in the martyrdom" of homosexuals.

At issue for the Church are a few phrases placed in the document by its French drafters and readily approved of by the European Union, which has unanimously sponsored it. Nations may add their signatures, but they cannot vote against it. There is no debate and no rewriting of the declaration.

The Vatican worries that provisions in the document — the emphasis on "social and cultural rights" — could be used to pressure countries to embrace gay marriage, which the Catholic Church rejects.

The Vatican's permanent observer at the U.N., Archbishop Celestino Migliore, announced the Holy See's opposition in an interview with a French Catholic news service. "[S]tates which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure," he said.

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