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SANT’ORESTE, Italy, July 23, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A parish priest in Italy has resigned from his position and agreed with his bishop to take a break from active ministry after he performed a same-sex civil union ceremony in a local town hall.

Earlier this week Italian media published the news that Father Emanuel Moscatelli, of St. Lorenzo’s parish in Sant’Oreste, officiated at a civil union ceremony between two women on July 11, which was described in reports as a “wedding.”

In response to the reports, local Bishop Romano Rossi of the Civita Castellana diocese announced in a statement that Moscatelli has agreed to resign and take a break from active ministry.

“On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 14, we met in the bishop’s office with Fr. Emanuele, and we agreed that he would resign his assignment as pastor, as a sign of taking distance from what had happened,” Rossi stated.

“We also peacefully agreed that he should take a suitable period for reflection in order to recover the clarity and joy of his presbyteral ministry in the concreteness of today’s world. Fr. Emanuele expressed his full faith in the Church as Mother and in the Bishop, and also his openness to the itinerary that will be proposed to him. Last Sunday I concelebrated [Mass] with him in the parish and announced the events to the community,” he continued.

“It is important for us to have clarity on a doctrinal level, communion on a pastoral level, and lucid and delicate attention to brothers in difficulty,” the bishop said.

Italian media outlet ADN Kronos also reports that Rossi told them that Moscatelli will not be able to return “to be a parish priest in St. Orestes” but that he will eventually return to active ministry and “be able to do everything, when the time comes.”

In his comments to ADN Kronos, Rossi said that “there is a canon that prevents priests from officiating civil ceremonies regardless of who gets married.”

However Rossi has not stated whether Moscatelli will undergo a canonical trial as a result of his actions.

Canon 1369 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states: 

A person who in a public show or speech, in published writing, or in other uses of the instruments of social communication utters blasphemy, gravely injures good morals, expresses insults, or excites hatred or contempt against religion or the Church is to be punished with a just penalty.

While some prominent Catholic bishops have expressed support for civil unions between people of the same-sex, the Vatican’s Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) taught in its 2003 document Considerations regarding proposals to give legal recognition to unions between homosexual persons that “respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

“In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty. One must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the enactment or application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation on the level of their application. In this area, everyone can exercise the right to conscientious objection,” the CDF document continued.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved” (CCC 2357).


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