Vatican newspaper compares marriage equality to communism

Gay Marriage Vatican
Faced with recent setbacks in the United States and in Europe, the Catholic Church has intensified its increasingly uphill battle against gay marriage. *Note: This image is not available to download. RNS photo courtesy Shutterstock.

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Faced with recent setbacks in the United States and in Europe, the Catholic Church has intensified its increasingly uphill battle against gay marriage.

The latest salvo came on Monday (Dec. 17), with a front-page article in the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Historian Lucetta Scaraffia compared proponents of gay marriage, with their championing of “marriage equality,” to 20th-century communists who wooed millions with their promise of perfect social and economical equality.

Gay Marriage Vatican

Faced with recent setbacks in the United States and in Europe, the Catholic Church has intensified its increasingly uphill battle against gay marriage. *Note: This image is not available to download. RNS photo courtesy Shutterstock.

Scaraffia, a 64-year-old former feminist activist who later became a fervent Catholic, has often written in the Vatican newspaper on the issue.

For her, the idea of  gay marriage is a product of the same “egalitarian utopia that did so much damage during the 20th century …  deceiving humanity as socialism did in the past.”

In November, voters approved gay marriage in three U.S. states, while Spain’s Constitutional Court rejected a bid to repeal the country’s same-sex marriage law. France and Britain are in the process of legalizing gay marriage.

The church has lobbied hard in all these countries. But it has also tried to present its position in a nonreligious way, as a defense of traditional family that can be embraced by believers and nonbelievers alike.

Particularly in France, church leaders say that their opposition to gay marriage is winning favor outside Catholic circles.

Last month, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest the government’s planned introduction of gay marriage. “Our demonstration was declaredly non-confessional,” said Paris Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois, who noted the participation  of Jewish and Muslim groups.

This approach mirrors Pope Benedict XVI’s on the issue.

In his yearly message on peace, released on Dec. 14, he said that protecting traditional marriage from “attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of unions” is not a faith issue.

Marriage’s “indispensable role in society” is “inscribed in human nature itself” and “common to all humanity,” he wrote. Therefore, the church’s efforts to protect it are not “confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation.”

In her L’ Osservatore Romano article, Scaraffia echoed and developed Benedict’s argument. To equate a traditional marriage between a man and a woman with a union between homosexuals amounts to a “negation of truth,” which would undermine “one of the basic structures of human society, family,” she wrote.

In the long run, she concluded, societies will end up paying “a very high price” for destroying family, “as it happened in the past with the attempts to create a complete social and economical equality.”

One Catholic supporter of gay marriage rejected Scaraffia’s argument as “cruel.”

Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, agreed that “marriage and family are sacred institutions that deserve the support of both civil and religious communities.” But, she added, “these institutions are not limited by the sexual orientations of their members. Love and commitment transcend gender.”

The Vatican’s arguments against gay marriage, she said, are based on “patently false beliefs about human nature” and represent “a cruel and un-Christian attempt to incite fear and division.”

In a recent interview, Scaraffia held her ground.

“The idea that men have to be equal to enjoy the fullness of their rights and be happy dates back to French Revolution, when they demolished church bell towers because they were taller than other buildings,” she said.

While socialism tried to realize this utopia through the abolition of private property and social differences, Scaraffia is convinced that today another “difference that defines humanity” is under threat — the one between man and woman.

For her, many people are coming round to accept the Vatican’s point. “In France, the church has become a reference point for all those who oppose gay marriage, be they secular or religious,” she said.

Scaraffia was also adamant that the church’s opposition to gay marriage cannot be labeled as discrimination. “The Vatican has often intervened against discrimination for gay people. But many people don’t want to see it, they just want to pin it down as homophobic.”


About the author

Alessandro Speciale

Alessandro Speciale has been covering the Vatican since 2007 and wrote for Religion News Service from 2011-2013. Born in Rome, he studied literature at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy, and journalism at City University, London. He has appeared as an expert on Vatican affairs on CNN, BBC World and Al Jazeera English.


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  • Scaraffia is correct: to equate marriage between men and women with unions between homosexuals is a “negation of truth.” Duddy-Burke proves this when she says that such institutions (marriage) are not limited by sexual orientation — yes they are, homosexual marriage has never been recognized in the history of mankind — and that love and commitment transcend gender — so, what is that supposed to mean? I love my pets and am committed to them, does that mean that I should be able to marry them too? Progressives/Socialists/Communists are delusional. They need a good helping of tough love!

  • (Raspberries) to those who think that queers should get married! Unless I’m reading my Bible wrong, marriage is between one man and one woman period. Nations that allowed such abominations to go on and presented them as perfectly normal have been destroyed. Sodom and Gomorrah, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Amorites and a bunch others come to mind. If you don’t want America to be included on that list, then we are gonna have to pray like never before that GOD will intervene our behalf to hearts and minds of the Congressmen and the Supreme Court justices that marriage should stay between one man and one woman and not try to redefine it to include perversions such as between two members of the same sex!!!!!!!!!

  • I agree with the writers ideas about the problem with total equality. The answer is that the term “marriage” implies a man and a women. No one thought back then that any society would question the term. Also, Communism would never have come close to allowing Gay marriage. They were more Conservative on those issues than the “Free World”.

  • You must be reading your Bible wrong if you think marriage is between one man and one woman- The Bible gives countless examples of one man, MANY women. That said, I’m not suggesting that I support polygamy, but with that in mind I’d like to use that to display how societal “norms” do change.

    “Wives, be submissive to your husband, as is proper in The Lord” Colossians 3:18

    Exactly how many of you opposing marriage equality based on Scripture ALSO follow the Bible literally when it comes to verses referencing a different cultural norm?

    God blessed us with reason. Use it.

  • Lucetta Scaraffia demonstrates that she is not much of a historian, certainly no longer a feminist, and only a spokesperson for her latest interest, the Vatican. When churchmen like the Archbishop of Paris generalize the success of their attempted sexual evangelization to include Jews and Muslims, they are being plainly deceitful. Conservative Jews and almost all Muslims, as a tenet of their Koran, have always officially opposed sexual relations between members of the same sex. They are not converts to any Catholic evangelism.

    Since Benedict XVI can recognize that same-sex marriage is not a faith issue, it seems he is stepping on ground beyond his Catholic theology which is supposedly his expertise. If marriage is “inscribed in human nature itself” and “common to all humanity,” that would certainly include homosexuals who are part of “human nature” and “humanity,” so Benedict undermines his own arguments.

    Relationships are facts, including same-sex relationships. Therefore, Scaraffia undermines her efforts to demonstrate logic as much as her claim to be an historian. I guess that allows her to remain a “former” feminist. I wonder what her history, her logic, and her theology were then. Scaraffia displays a sad illiteracy about the difference between the old Soviet communism and socialism.

    Marianne Duddy-Burke exposes both Benedict’s and Scaraffia’s weak arguments. Love, including sexual and non-sexual love, implies commitment of various durations. In ancient times, writers of both Old and New Testaments, like everyone else, knew little and admitted less about homosexuality. That does not mean that it was not a reality then just as it has always been. Even in earlier modern times, sexuality was not a topic of “proper” discussion. Homosexuality even less so. That is only part of what has kept it in dark ignorance for so long. Homosexuality is not at all new, just our admission, recognition, and understanding of it.

    One must ask how a very large group of celibate, presumably chaste men would know and understand so much about sexuality. Scaraffia’s presumption that anyone can be truly happy without full equality in basic human rights is not worthy of argument. She proves that with her nonsensical comparison of those rights with bell towers of different heights during the French Revolution. Archbishop Andre Vingt-Trois ought to be an expert in that.

    Again, Scaraffia proves what a poor historian she is when she equates Communism with socialism. What about all the “communism” in Catholic religious orders? Because the Catholic Church is still so large and loud, its voice can be heard by many, even many of different belief systems and those with no belief system. That does not mean they agree. It does not mean many converts. And it does not mean others did not think along the same lines as Benedict long before he defined homosexuality as “intrinsically evil” in one of his early, pretentious defenses for John Paul II against the sexual abuse of under-age boys and girls by their sinful, criminal clergy.

  • You’re right, it doesn’t. The verse listed, Colossians 3:18, speaks specifically of being submissive to your husband, which I included IN ADDITION to what should be fairly understood Biblical examples of taking many wives. There is do distortion by using either example, and I fear no blasphemy.
    Again, use your reason…