Vatican City The Vatican hopes to rally public opposition to gay marriages in a worldwide campaign spurred by its alarm over growing legal acceptance of same-sex unions in Europe and North America.
Pope John Paul II has been speaking out for months against legislative proposals to legalize same-sex marriages. But instructions to be released this week go a step further by outlining a course of action for politicians and other lay people to oppose extending the rights accorded to traditional couples, Vatican officials told The Associated Press.
The document is titled "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons." It was prepared by the church's guardian of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and is to be released Thursday, the officials said.
One official familiar with the document called it a "practical reflection" for both Catholic and non-Catholic politicians and public opinion in general.
It asks that the legal recognition accorded the traditional marriages not be extended to same-sex unions, the official told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The document prescribes a course of action for politicians and lay communities and does not involve the clergy, Vatican officials said. It is expected to detail how the issue should be dealt with in public forums, including legislatures. The officials did not give provide examples.
The Catholic Church is not the only Christian denomination embroiled in the debate.
At its national convention, which begins Wednesday in Minneapolis, the Episcopal Church in the United States will decide whether to permit blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions and approve the first election of an openly gay bishop, issues that are sharply dividing that church.