The bishops in Austria speak out against a law on "registered partnerships" for homosexuals. This is neither appropriate nor necessary, because the existing civil law provisions guarantee the appropriate safeguards, it says in a statement at the end of the autumn plenary session of the Bishops' Conference.
In the statement, the bishops also warn against further liberalization of abortion legislation and oppose the recent crucifix ruling against Italy by the European Court of Human Rights. The draft on the "registered partnership" is less far-reaching than in other countries and does not intend to equalize homosexual relationships with marriage, the bishops explain. It is to be feared, however, that the planned law, which is to become effective on 1. The bishops said that the new law, which is to come into force on January 1, 2010, would create the conditions for a development that would eventually lead to equality with marriage. The bishops call on the deputies to make a careful judgment and to follow their conscience when voting in the parliament. The bishops describe the crucifix ruling of the Strasbourg court as worrying. It "doubly favors certain aspects of religious liberty". It places individual freedom above collective freedom and negative freedom above positive freedom of religion. The cross is an essential part of European culture, the bishops continue. It is therefore also a matter of preserving cultural identity. In this respect, the ruling also affects people who do not practice the Christian faith or belong to another religion. With regard to the ie of the protection of life, the bishops see a profound change in awareness in Austria with the introduction of the regulation on time limits. There are "efforts in some places to go beyond impunity and make abortion a 'right'". Thereby serious injustice becomes a claim. Legal regulation that legalizes or enables abortion can never meet with the approval of the Catholic Church, bishops clarify. You announce that starting next June you will hold an annual "Week for Life" in all dioceses. At their plenary meeting Monday through Thursday, the bishops continued to address climate change, the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago and education, among other ies.