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Vatican reiterates family stance

Hits contraception and gay unions

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican declared yesterday that the traditional family has never been so threatened as in today's world, lashing out against contraception, abortion, in vitro fertilization, and same-sex marriage.

The 57-page document was issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family, whose head, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, is a strong opponent of the use of condoms under any circumstances.

Gay activists in Italy quickly condemned the pronouncement as an ``attack against modern life, freedom, and social redemption."

Many of the practices attacked by the document have been widespread in Western nations for decades; same-sex marriage has become an issue recently.

Several countries have legalized gay marriage and others permit civil unions.

However, many US states have outlawed same-sex marriage, and President Bush and some Republican senators are campaigning to amend the US Constitution to ban it.

The Vatican's document did not break new ground, but summarized traditional Roman Catholic Church positions in the first sweeping comment on the issues during Pope Benedict XVI's papacy.

``Man of modern times has radicalized the tendency to take the place of God and substitute him," it said. ``Never before in history has human procreation, and therefore the family, which is its natural place, been so threatened as in today's culture."

The document did not mention the current debate within the Vatican on whether the church should permit condoms to battle AIDS in a particular circumstance -- when one partner in a marriage has the virus.

It reaffirmed the 1968 encyclical ``Humanae Vitae" that stated the Vatican's opposition to contraception.

However, it noted, couples ``have been limiting themselves to one, or maximum two children."

The document also condemned in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and the use of embryos.

``If a man takes on the power to fabricate man, he also takes on the power to destroy him," it said. ``The human being has the right to be generated, not produced, to come to life not in virtue of an artificial process but of a human act in the full sense of the term: the union between a man and a woman."

Lopez Trujillo sparked controversy three years ago when he said condoms don't prevent AIDS and may help spread it because they create a false sense of security. The Vatican insists sexual abstinence is the only sure way to fight AIDS.

Several other cardinals have argued that the use of a condom within a marriage would be the lesser evil if it prevented passing on HIV infection to the partner.

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