Dutch foreign minister criticises pope's view on same-sex marriage


The Dutch foreign minister has criticised Pope Benedict for his opposition to same-sex marriage – quoting comments by a papal envoy in Ireland last week to support his case for freedom of sexual orientation.

The minister, Frans Timmermans, a former diplomat, responded in unusually strong terms to the Pope’s Christmas speech in which he denounced gay marriage as destroying the very “essence of the human creature”.

Mr Timmermans referred to an address by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states – a post seen as the equivalent of Foreign Minister of the Holy See – at the meeting of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Dublin.

In his speech the Archbishop quoted the Pope, saying: “Good governance has to follow natural law that is written in the heart of every human being. Pope Benedict XVI expressed this view very clearly during his recent visit to Lebanon: ‘In God’s plan, each person is unique and irreplaceable . . .’. ”

To this Mr Timmermans, who also attended the OSCE conference, replied: “If every person is unique . . . then why should that unique person not have the right to stand up for his or her own sexual orientation?” In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriages.