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Vatican escalates war on gay marriage

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican is pressing its opposition to gay marriage, insisting Saturday that children should grow up with a father and a mother after Italy's high court upheld a lower court ruling and granted custody of a child to his gay mother.

In its decision Friday, the Court of Cassation said there was no "scientific certainty or experience-based data" to support the father's claims that the child's development was being damaged by living with his mother and her female partner. Such an argument was "mere prejudice," the court said.

On Saturday, bioethicist Adriano Pessina sought to downplay the significance of the ruling, writing in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that children often grow up in less-than-ideal circumstances and turn out fine.

"But no one would argue that you should create these situations just because in some cases they don't create damage," he wrote. He echoed the pope's recent insistence that no one has a "right" to a child and that children should be raised by a mother and father.

"Monogamous families constitute the ideal place to learn the significance of human relations and represent the social and anthropological environment in which the best type of growth is possible," he wrote.

On Vatican Radio, the Vatican official in charge of family echoed his argument in voicing opposition to legislative proposals in France to let gays adopt, saying children aren't "merchandise" that people have a right to.

"In reality, the child must be born and grow up in ... the ordinary way, that is with a father and mother," Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told Vatican Radio.

The Vatican has ratcheted up its opposition to gay marriage in the face of gains by its supporters in the U.S. and Europe. Last month, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his annual speech to the Vatican government to the issue, saying gender theory was blurring the lines between male and female and contributing to the current crisis in families.

On Sunday, a major demonstration against gay marriage is planned for Paris.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2013 A4

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