Gay marriage is "eclipse of God" - Vatican
VATICAN CITY, June 6 (Reuters) The Vatican today said that gay marriage, abortion, lesbians wanting to bear children and a host of other practices it sees as threats to the traditional family were signs of ''the eclipse of God''.
A 60-page document, called ''Family and Human Procreation,'' was issued just days after US President George W Bush urged the Senate to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
The document strongly restated many of the Roman Catholic Church's positions on sexuality, marriage and life but went further, saying the family today was more endangered than at any time before in history.
''The causes are diverse but the 'eclipse' of God, creator of man, is at the root of the profound current crisis concerning the truth about man, about human procreation and the family,'' said the document, prepared by the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family.
It said the family was under attack around the world, even in traditionally Christian cultures, by what it called ''radical currents'' proposing new family models.
It listed these threats as homosexual marriages, giving gay couples equal legal recognition as married heterosexuals, lesbians demanding the right to bear children through artificial insemination and gays who want to adopt children.
Bush, in his radio address last weekend, called for a constitutional amendment to keep ''activist'' judges from overturning efforts by some state legislatures to ban gay marriage.
Gay marriage has been an increasingly divisive issue in the United States since a Massachusetts court ruled in 2003 that the state legislature could not ban it, paving the way for America's first same-sex marriages the following year.
NEW ITALY GOVERNMENT DIVIDED The issue of gay marriage and the recognition of unwed heterosexual couples is also one that Italy's new centre-left government will likely have to confront.
The coalition of Prime Minister Romano Prodi promises some form of recognition for unmarried couples but has so far stopped short of openly supporting gay marriage as part of its programme.
However, some coalition parties back greater rights for homosexuals, including marriage, and the issue is widely expected to surface sooner or later.
Some in the centre left support a legal recognition similar to that in France, which in 1999 granted all couples the right to form civil unions and have the right to joint social security, limited inheritance rights and other benefits.
Italy's powerful Roman Catholic Church opposes this.
Since his election last year, Pope Benedict has been accused by some politicians of interfering in domestic affairs by speaking out against gay marriage and legal recognition of unmarried heterosexuals.
Gay unions are already legal in several European countries, including traditionally Catholic Spain. Britain has introduced a law allowing gays to formalise their relationships.
In other parts of the document, the Vatican branded abortion an ''abominable crime'' and said it was ''inconceivable'' that it remained unpunished.
Abortion until the third month of pregnancy has been legal in Italy since 1978 but some conservative Catholics want to ban it again.
REUTERS DKS BST1937