.- The Vatican's representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva says a recent resolution on âsexual orientation and gender identityâ is part of an agenda that could restrict the Church's freedom.
âThe resolution marks a change. It is seen as the beginning of a movement within the international community and the United Nations to insert gay rights in the global human rights agenda,â said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, head of the Holy See's Permanent Mission to the U.N. in Geneva, in a recent e-mail interview with CNA.
The archbishop noted that a U.S. State Department spokesperson had described the resolution as âa beginning of an international norm that will take hold gradually.â But âif norms are established,â Archbishop Tomasi wondered, âwhat provisions will be made for freedom of expression on the part of religious leaders?â
He spoke of a âgenuine concernâ that natural marriages and families âwill be socially downgraded with the eventual legislation that puts homosexual âmarriageâ and the marriage between a man and a womanâ on the same level. The Vatican representative also said marriage could be threatened by related measures that would mandate homosexual adoptions and introduce âcompulsory sex education at school that clashes with Christian values.â
At a June 27 event co-hosted by the U.S. State Department and the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies organization, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton credited a âmajor push by American diplomatsâ for the June 17 passage of what she described as âthe first ever U.N. resolution recognizing the human rights of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people worldwide.â
Clinton called the resolution a âhuge step forward,â and stated that âso far as the United States is concerned and our foreign policy, and our values â¦ gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.â
The resolution, which expresses âgrave concern at acts of violence and discrimination â¦ against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,â will not have an immediate effect on U.N. member states. Instead, it formally requests that the High Commissioner for Human Rights undertake an investigation into such acts, in preparation for further dialogue at the council during 2012.
Although the resolution will do little in the short term, the secretary of state described its passage â over the objections of numerous Arab and African counties, as well as Russia and Moldova â as one of the department's âmomentous achievementsâ on a matter of âhigh priority.â
In his remarks to CNA, Archbishop Tomasi reiterated that the Church does not support violence against those who engage in homosexual behavior, or any attempt by the state to punish an individual simply because of âfeelings and thoughts.â
âI think that violence against homosexual persons is not acceptable and it should be rejected, even though this does not imply an endorsement of their behavior.â
âThe terms 'sexual orientation and gender identity' are not defined in international law,â he noted. âTo the extent that they are not external behavior, but feelings and thoughts, they cannot be subjected to punitive laws.â
But âfor some people,â he pointed out, âthese words are a code phrase for types of conduct.â
The archbishop expanded on a point he has previously tried to impress upon the Human Rights Council, as he observed that all societies regulate sexual behavior to some extent â by forbidding practices like incest, pedophilia, or rape â for the sake of the common good.
He contrasted the âclear messageâ of God's creation, which spells out the complementarity of the two sexes, with the U.N.'s contrived and vague terminology of âorientationâ and âgender identity.â
âInstead of 'gender,'â Archbishop Tomasi said, âthe concept we should use is 'sex,' a universal term in natural law referring to male and female.â
âIn fact, it seems that terms such as 'gender' or 'sexual orientation' are devised to escape reality and to accommodate a variety of feelings and impulses that then are transformed into rights.â
This use of ârightsâ language, to justify practices like same-sex âmarriage,â may appear superficially harmless as long as the alleged rights seem to be confined to private life. But Archbishop Tomasi warned that these impulse-driven claims of ârightsâ are in conflict with authentic rights â such as the free exercise of religion, and the education of one's children.
He pointed to the âtraditionally Catholic countryâ of Spain, as âan example of where the current trend may lead.â
In that country, âlegislation has been passed in the last four or five years in favor of homosexual marriage, free abortion in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, of compulsory education even for children aged 8 to 12 on such issues as masturbation, same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion.â
This arrangement prevails in Spain, ânotwithstanding the fact that thousands of parents are opposing this policy that denies their fundamental right to decide on their childrenâs education.â
Archbishop Tomasi suggested that Catholics today have a responsibility âto clarify legal and moral aspects of the current cultureâ â by drawing a distinction between desires and rights, promoting the Catholic synthesis of faith and reason, and making it clear that a judgment against homosexuality is not a condemnation of homosexuals.
âThere is confusion in some peopleâs mind,â he noted, âin combining a just respect and protection for every person â including homosexuals â and support for the indispensable role of the family, the parents right to educate their children, the support of the natural family for the common good.â
While the secular West may find this ethos increasingly incomprehensible, the Church will continues to promote it. âThe teaching of the Church is not conditioned by political consensus,â the archbishop noted. âAt times she is misunderstood and even becomes the target of reprisals and persecution.â
âReason and natural law, however, support faith-inspired positions,â he stated, âand the convergence of faith and reason is exceptionally fruitful for the progress and well-being of the human family.â