Desires Aren't "Rights," Says Cardinal Sodano

Criticizes Move to Grant Legal Recognition to Cohabitating Couples

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LUGANO, Switzerland, SEPT. 21, 2005 ( Cardinal Angelo Sodano says that cohabitation might be a desire, but that doesn’t make it a “right.”

The Vatican secretary of state made that comment Tuesday amid the ongoing debate in Europe about the legal recognition of couples, including homosexuals, who live together. He was participating in a congress on human rights at this city’s School of Theology.

“Today, one speaks of the ‘right’ to live together outside of marriage. But it is not a right! It will be a desire, a yearning for some,” affirmed the cardinal. His remarks appeared in today’s edition of the newspaper Avvenire.

“There doesn’t exist a right to other forms of union that aren’t the family,” contended the dean of the College of Cardinals. “This [the family], like the right to live, liberty, property, is founded in the natural law. And the natural law is universal and immutable. Laws cannot go against the natural law.”

The cardinal observed that for some time there has been a move to create new rights, “to the point of speaking of a right to abortion and to different models of family life. But these are not rights.”

“The mission of Christians,” he added, “is that of reminding people that the tree of human right, with all its ramifications, cannot give fruit if its roots are cut. With them the tree stops flourishing and will wither.”

The link between human rights and the natural law is so intimate, the cardinal said, that is goes beyond faith and has a bonding character even for those who don’t believe.

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