.- Portuguese bishops, joined by the country's Pro-Life Federation, denounced their president's decision to legalize same-sex âmarriageâ on Monday, calling the move a âstep backwardâ and an âattack on the traditional family.â
A bill aimed at legalizing same-sex âmarriagesâ was passed by the Portuguese parliament in February with the support of the left-wing parties, which are in the majority. President Anibal Cavaco Silva had until May 17 to decide whether to sign the bill into law or exercise his veto power. Politicians opposed to the measure had called for a nationwide referendum on the matter.
"Given that fact,â President Cavaco Silva said on Monday, âI feel I should not contribute to a pointless extension of this debate, which would only serve to deepen the divisions between the Portuguese and divert the attention of politicians away from the grave problems affecting us.â
The president, who is a self-identified Catholic, said on Monday that he was putting aside his âpersonal convictionsâ and approving the legislation, making Portugal the sixth country in Europe to allow same-sex unions.
Fr. Manuel MorujÃ£o, spokesman for the Portuguese Bishops' Conference, called the president's decision a âstep backward in the building of social cohesion and is against one of the most established principles of the different civilizations of mankind.â The spokesman then referenced Pope Benedict XVI's recent visit to Portugal, where the Holy Father stressed the importance of âprotecting the essential and primary values of lifeâ which include the âindissoluble marriage between a man and a woman.â
âIn Fatima, on May 13th,â Fr. MorujÃ£o wrote, âPope Benedict XVI pointed out that the family is based on a union of love between a man and a woman and that protecting it is one of the key factors in the building of the common good.â
Isilda Pegado, president of the Portuguese Pro-Life Federation, also commented in an interview with SIR news on Tuesday, calling the legislation an âattack on the traditional family, which is bound to have severe repercussions on the entire society.â
Pegado said that âunfortunately, President Cavaco Silva decided to promulgateâ the law, which she said was âbacked by a small political elite, a minority compared to those mothers and fathers who want to educate their children in truth.â
The Pro-Life Federation leader also spoke about traditional marriage as âa school of values and social solidarity,â and adding that it âgives birth to children, brings them up, educates them, and is concerned with the protection and support of the most vulnerable.â
âIn other words,â she explained, traditional marriage âexercises a form of social solidarity that is peculiar only to a family composed of a mother and a father,â and for this reason, âshould be supported and not undermined.â