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Pope says Catholic government officials should be able to ‘opt out’ of recognising gay unions

Nick Duffy May 17, 2016
During Pope Francis' tenure, the Catholic Church has lobbied against LGBT rights around the world

(Getty)

The Pope has claimed that government officials who are Catholic should have the ‘freedom of conscience’ to discriminate against married gay people.

Pope Francis, who met with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis on his trip to the US last year, made the comments in an interview with French newspaper La Croix.

The religious leader was asked about whether Catholics should “defend their concerns on societal issues” such as same-sex marriage.

He responded: “It is up to Parliament to discuss, argue, explain, reason [these issues]. That is how a society grows.

“However, once a law has been adopted, the state must also respect [people’s] consciences.

“The right to conscientious objection must be recognized within each legal structure because it is a human right. Including for a government official, who is a human person.

“The state must also take criticism into account. That would be a genuine form of laicity.

“You cannot sweep aside the arguments of Catholics by simply telling them that they ‘speak like a priest’.

“No, they base themselves on the kind of Christian thinking that France has so remarkably developed.”

The Pope last month released a long-awaited report on ‘the family’ which affirms existing church teachings opposing gay equality and same-sex marriage.

Elsewhere in the document, he rallies against sex education focussing on safe sex and teaching about condoms.

He wrote: “Frequently, sex education deals primarily with ‘protection’ through the practice of ‘safe sex’

“Such expressions convey a negative attitude towards the natural procreative finality of sexuality, as if an eventual child were an enemy to be protected against.

“This way of thinking promotes narcissism and aggressively in place of acceptance. It is always irresponsible to invite adolescents to toy with their bodies and their desires, as if they possessed the maturity, values, mutual commitment and goals proper to marriage.”

He added that sex education should be focussed on “modesty”. He added that schools must teach “respect and appreciation for differences” – but this doesn’t appear to extend to trans people

He said: “The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created, for thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.

“An appreciation of our body as male or female is also necessary for our own self-awareness in an encounter with others different from ourselves. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.”

He added: “Only by losing the fear of being different, can we be freed of self-centredness and self-absorption.”

“Sex education should help young people to accept their own bodies and to avoid the pretension to cancel out sexual difference because one no longer knows how to deal with it”.

Elsewhere, in the document, the Pope says that gay people should receive “assistance” to bring them back to normality, and affirms there are “absolutely no grounds” for considering recognition of “homosexual unions”.

The Catholic leader wrote: “In discussing the dignity and mission of the family, the Synod Fathers observed that, as for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.

More: Catholic, Europe, Gay, Italy, leader, LGBT, Pope, Pope Francis, Religion

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