The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence in the US state of Rhode Island has banned Catholics from participating in or entering into same-sex civil unions after a church campaign to stop them being legalised failed.

“The church reminds its members that homosexual activity is contrary to the natural law and the will of God and, therefore, is objectively sinful,” Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote.

“Because civil unions promote an unacceptable lifestyle, undermine the faith of the church on holy matrimony, and cause scandal and confusion, Catholics may not participate in civil unions. To do so is a very grave violation of the moral law and, thus, seriously sinful. A civil union can never be accepted as a legitimate alternative to matrimony.

“Can there be any doubt that almighty God will, in his own time and way, pass judgment upon our state, its leaders and citizens, for abandoning his commands and embracing public immorality?”

Tobin did not specify what action would be taken against Catholics who participated in or entered into same-sex civil unions but it is likely they would be denied communion.

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