By Gudrun Schultz

  VATICAN CITY, January 24, 2007 ( – Cardinal Camillo Ruini, head of the Italian episcopal conference, addressed the issue of homosexual marriage or civil union rights at the opening of the twice-yearly assembly of Italian bishops, saying, “It must be said that (homosexual unions) are at odds with basic anthropological facts, in particular with the nonexistence of the blessing of generating children, which is the specific reason for the social recognition of marriage.”

  Cardinal Ruini warned against new legislation to resolve legal issues around unmarried couples “that would inevitably be set up as something similar to a marriage.” Slight changes to the country’s civil code would be enough to resolve any legal gaps, he said, while new legislation would be “a sure way to make the creation of authentic families more difficult, with great damage to people, starting with the children, and to Italian society.”

  Proposed legislation, backed by the Radical Party, would grant unmarried couples similar rights to married couples, with inheritance rights, joint medical insurance, hospital and prison visiting rights and the right to make health decisions for one another in case of incapacitation, according to a report by the Associated Press.

  As well, Cardinal Ruini reiterated the position of the Diocese of Rome in denying euthanasia advocate Piergiorgio Welby a Catholic funeral, after the disabled man asked to receive sedation and have his respirator removed, resulting in his death Dec.20, 2007.

  Cardinal Ruini said the Vatican could not allow a Catholic funeral for Welby because “to the end, he persevered lucidly and consciously in the wish to be able to end his own life.

“In these conditions, a different decision would have been impossible and contradictory for the Church because it would have legitimized behaviour contrary to the laws of God.”
  Welby, who suffered from advanced muscular dystrophy, died after anesthesiologist Mario Riccio complied with his request to administer sedative drugs and unplug his respirator.

  Welby had petitioned the State to interfere in his case and give permission for his euthanasia, in a highly publicized case that raised intense debate over the countries’ laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide.

  The Diocese of Rome said Welby was denied a Catholic funeral not because of the manner of his death, but because of his advocacy for legalized euthanasia in clear opposition to Church teaching.

  See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Diocese of Rome Refuses Catholic Funeral for Catholic Right-to-Die Activist

  Italian Court Denies Paralyzed Man’s Request to Have Respirator Turned Off

  Italian President Advocates Debate on Legalizing Euthanasia

  Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide