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Pope gets involved in gay rights debate – I wonder what side he’s on?

mitresAs the government in Italy debates a bill that would grant rights to non-married co-habitating couples, the Vatican is getting more and more vocal in its opposition. And while I’m sure the Vatican doesn’t want to be seen as supporting heterosexual couples living in “sin,” the real sticking point seems to be the implication that the bill would also grant rights to gay couples. Prime Minister Romano Prodi approved the proposals in early February, the bill was approved in early March by Italy’s cabinet, but faces an uphill battle in parliament.

A few news stories about this of late:

Italy protesters back gay rights – A majority of Italians seems to think that being gay isn’t that big of a deal, even if they do happen to live in the shadow of the Roman Catholic Church’s mothership. Last weekend, tens of thousands of protesters in Rome marched in favor of the bill. My favorite slogan on one paper bishop’s mitre reads “Meglio gay che Opus Dei!” or “Better to be gay than Opus Dei!”

Minister storms off in TV gay row – A Catholic MP (Minister of Parliament) was involved in a televised debate about the bill last week when he abruptly left during a commercial break after being asked a question by an audience member that he refused to answer, and then being mocked by a political cartoonist on the show. It’s hard out there for a Catholic MP.

Pope spells it out to Catholic pols – This week, the Pope told Catholic politicans directly that they must not vote in favor of anything which goes against the Church’s teaching. He said Catholic legislators must be “aware of their social responsibility” and must strenuously defend the Church’s “non-negotiable values” which include “respect for human life” – except when that life is gay, apparently.