[W]ith the Christmas season upon us, there is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is also quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.Read it all.
Benedict's envoy to the United Nations, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, has announced that the Vatican will oppose a proposed U.N. declaration calling for an end to discrimination against homosexuals. At first blush, no one should be surprised to find the Catholic Church hierarchy butting heads with gay rights activists. But this particular French-sponsored proposal, which has the backing of all 27 European Union countries, calls for an end to the practice of criminalizing and punishing people for their sexual orientation. Most dramatically, in some countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by death.
Papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi was forced to clarify that the Vatican continues to condemn the use of the death penalty for any crime, including those associated with homosexuality. Instead, Migliore said the Vatican's opposition to the U.N. proposal was driven by concern that countries that prohibit gay marriage would somehow be targeted. Said Migliore: "Countries that don't recognize the union between people of the same sex as marriage will be punished and pressured."
The U.N. declaration does not in fact mention gay marriage, and most of the nations that support it themselves don't allow people of the same sex to wed.
Archbishop Migliore confirmed on Tuesday that the Vatican had also refused to sign a U.N. document last May in support of the rights of the disabled because it did not include condemnation of abortion, and the rights the fetus with birth defects. Vatican officials nevertheless voiced support for the central principles of the disabled rights document, which Migliore helped craft before the final decision to withhold the Holy See’s signature.
Other reports: Reuters article which includes a good roundup of reactions from newspapers in Europe, from the French UN representative, and from gay activists | Catholic News Agency article headlined "Holy See not in favor of death penalty for gays, Vatican spokesman clarifies."
Meanwhile, in Arizona,
Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix taped a short message that explained why traditional marriage is a "nonnegotiable issue" for Catholics, an unprecedented move. The diocese believes the tape was played at every mass in its jurisdiction. While this angered some liberal Catholics, Ron Johnson, the executive director of the public policy agency for the three Arizona dioceses, said Bishop Olmsted's message led to a 32-point uptick in support for Prop. 102 among churchgoing Catholics.