[JURIST] The head of Catholic bishops in Italy Monday denounced a plan by the Italian government to give same-sex couples [JURIST news archive] many of the rights that heterosexual couples enjoy. Cardinal Camillo Ruini [Wikipedia profile] spoke to a conference of Italian bishops and said same-sex unions went against the basic purpose of marriage - to produce children. The proposed legislation [JURIST report] is being offered by party members of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi [official website; BBC profile] and would give same-sex couples combined medical insurance, the right to visit their partner in prison or hospitals, inheritance rights, and decision-making authority should one partner become sick.
Ruini was criticized by leftist party members for seemingly creating his own "political agenda," but conservative politicians lauded his remarks as protecting rights due only in traditional marriages. Ruini also spoke against allowing living wills in Italy [JURIST news archive], saying it would lead the way for increased instances of euthanasia, and defended the Catholic Church's decision to deny a church funeral [BBC report] to Piergiorgio Welby [profile, in Italian; JURIST report] who asked a doctor to remove his respirator. AP has more.