National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date:  August 15, 2003

Irish council warns against using Vatican document to promote hatred

By Cian Molloy
Catholic News Service
Dublin, Ireland

The Vatican’s recent document opposing legal recognition for homosexual unions could be used to promote hatred, said the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

Aisling Reidy, the council’s director, warned that people using the document to promote hostility toward homosexuals could face six months’ imprisonment under Ireland’s 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act.

But the civil liberties chief denied a claim, reported in The Irish Times Aug. 2, that, under Ireland’s 1989 Incitement to Hatred Act, bishops and priests might face prosecution for distributing the Vatican document.

“However offensive the (Vatican) document may be, it was not written with the intention of creating hatred -- even though that might be the result of it,” Reidy told Catholic News Service.

“I don’t see any problem with distributing the document at Mass services, but the document could be used in other ways that would contravene the act,” Reidy said.

“The section that claims that allowing gay or lesbian couples to adopt would involve ‘doing violence to these children’ is particularly dangerous, given the high level of public anxiety about pedophilia,” she added.

Father Martin Clarke, spokesman for the Irish bishops’ conference, told CNS: “I don’t accept that the document contravenes the 1989 act; indeed, paragraph six of the document says ‘men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.’“

In the 12-page document released July 31, the Vatican called on lawmakers to offer “clear and emphatic opposition” to legal recognition of same-sex unions, which it said were contrary to human nature and ultimately harmful to society.

The Vatican expressed particular alarm at moves to allow gay couples to adopt children, which it said would be a form of “violence” against children and “gravely immoral.”

The document rejected arguments that failing to give gay unions legal recognition would be unjust discrimination. It underscored the unique social role of marriage between a man and a woman in continuing the human race and raising children.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Ireland 10 years ago, and Reidy told CNS she knew of no organized campaign against homosexuals or homosexuality in Ireland in recent years.

The weekend after the document was issued, vandals attacked Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Limerick, Ireland, and painted “Gay Rights” and “Homophobes” on the building. The attack coincided with a gay pride festival in the city.

National Catholic Reporter, August 15, 2003

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