Italy's Top Cardinal Speaks Against Legal Recognition for Unmarried Couples

Italy’s highest-ranking cardinal rejected the idea of giving legal recognition to unmarried couples during a meeting with Italy’s bishops’ council on Monday, Sept. 19.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference and the Pope’s Vicar for Rome, spoke out strongly against giving legal recognition to unmarried couples, heterosexual and homosexual, during a meeting with the permanent council of the Italian bishops’ conference on Sept. 19.

"Supporting legitimate families ought to be the first and real concern of legislators," said Ruini at the beginning of an Italy’s bishop council conference according to the Italian news agency

There have been renewed debates in Italy concerning legal recognition of unmarried couples after Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi, expected to be a candidate in the general elections for Premier next spring, said he was in favor of introducing legal rights to unmarried couples.

Earlier this month, Prodi confirmed that he also included same-sex union when extending legal rights to unmarried couples. Prodi’s statement produced strong opposition from the Catholic Church and the center-right side of Italy’s government.

Giving legal recognition to unmarried couples, "are largely modeled on the institution of marriage, and envisage what might be called a small marriage: something of which there is no real need and which would produce, on the contrary, an eclipsing of the nature and value of a family and a very grave harm to the Italian people," said Ruini in a speech at the Italian bishops’ conference.

Prodi said he was inspired by France’s Civil Solidarity Pact (PACS) in 1999, which gave legal rights, including administrative and financial benefits, to unmarried couples including same-sex couples when they registered with the state.

The Vatican does not recognize same-sex unions or unmarried couples and has been a strong voice in Italy, where the Vatican is located, against giving legal recognition to these relationships. The Vatican has a long history of voicing the Catholic stance on moral political agendas.