The softer side of Pope Benedict XVI?

As U.S. cardinals try to soften the new pontiff's image, the Vatican calls on Catholics to disobey a new Spanish law on gay marriage.

Published April 22, 2005 1:36PM (EDT)

Well, that didn't take long.

Just three days after Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope, and just two days after U.S. cardinals went on a publicity blitz trying to soften the new pontiff's image, the Vatican has come out swinging against Spain's move to legalize same-sex marriages and adoptions by gay couples. As the Times of London reports, a Vatican spokesman declared Spain's new law "iniquitous" today and demanded that Catholics disobey it.

"We cannot impose the iniquitous on people," said Cardinal Alfonso Lopes Trujill, head of the Pontifical Council on the Family. "On the contrary, precisely because [the law is] iniquitous, the Church makes an urgent call for freedom of conscience and the duty to oppose. A law as profoundly iniquitous as this one is not an obligation, it cannot be an obligation. One cannot say that a law is right simply because it is law." The Times says that Trujill called on municipal officials to refuse to perform ceremonies recognizing gay marriages, even if doing so cost them their jobs. "They should exercise the same conscientious objection asked of doctors and nurses against a crime such as abortion," he said. "This is not a matter of choice: All Christians . . . must be prepared to pay the highest price, including the loss of a job."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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