By James Tillman

SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 9, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com)—In the 136-page ruling overturning California's ban on "gay marriage," Judge Vaughn Walker cites a document signed by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, to show that "religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful" can "harm gays and lesbians."

William May, chairman of Catholics for the Common Good (CCG), told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that it was shocking for a federal court to rule that "Catholic teaching and [that] that of other religions are harmful to anyone." 

He also said that Walker's ruling demonstrates how "freedom for religious expression and the private interests and feelings of individuals" are on a collision course.

"Religion has always been seen as a good," he said, but "now it is being seen by an increasing number of people as harmful.”

The document that Judge Walker quoted, entitled "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons," was issued in 2003 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and signed by Cardinal Joseph  Ratzinger, who was then prefect.

The ruling quotes the document's statement that "Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts 'as a serious depravity.'"

The ruling also quotes the statement that there "are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," as well other short statements summarizing Catholic theology.

These quotations are offered in support of the ruling's 77th "finding of fact": "Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians."

Walker's ruling has fully 80 findings of fact, which are separated from the "conclusions of law" in which he decides the case.  Appellate courts are typically deferential to a lower court's findings of fact, which has lead most commentators to agree that Walker's ruling was specifically written to withstand appeal.

As evidence that religious beliefs harm homosexuals, Walker also quotes resolutions from the Southern Baptist Convention, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Free Methodist Church, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and the Orthodox Church of America.

None of these resolutions recommend violence against homosexuals; all of them generally state only that homosexual behavior is contrary to God's will.

Many of Judge Vaughn Walker's quotations from the CDF document were indirectly pulled from the website of Catholics for the Common Good, an apostolate for the evangelization of the culture.  It runs training and formation programs to prepare Catholics to deal with the current corrosive influence of the culture on marriage and family.

Chairman William May of the CCG told LSN that although the Church "is threatened by attitudes like Walker’s, the response must be love” instead of a response that others interpret “as merely ideological."

The battle for marriage is not simply in the courts, he explained, but in people's minds and imaginations.

"New ways must be discovered for inculturating the truth and beauty of our faith to help people understand the reality of the human person in God’s plan for creation and the path to true love, true freedom, and true happiness.”

In his ruling, Judge Walker did not note that the CDF document he quotes also condemns unjust action against homosexuals.  The document says that the "whole moral truth" is contradicted "both by approval of homosexual acts and [by] unjust discrimination against homosexual persons."

It also condemns any attempts to redefine marriage between a man and a woman to include same-sex "unions."

"If, from the legal standpoint, marriage between a man and a woman were to be considered just one possible form of marriage, the concept of marriage would undergo a radical transformation, with grave detriment to the common good," the document states. "By putting homosexual unions on a legal plane analogous to that of marriage and the family, the State acts arbitrarily and in contradiction with its duties."