Rocco Buttiglione: "Champion of human rights"

Under attack for calling homosexuality sinful, Christian Democrat and papal confidant Rocco Buttiglione said yesterday he was abandoning efforts to become &to=http:// ' target=_blank>European Union justice commissioner, a bid that had kept the new EU Commission from taking office.

Buttiglione defended his religious beliefs, insisting they would not affect his work for the EU.

Premier &to=http:// ' target=_blank>Silvio Berlusconi said Friday that Buttiglione would remain as European affairs minister in his conservative government.

The new commission was virtually doomed to rejection by the European Parliament if Buttiglione was part of it. Earlier this week, the new EU top executive, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, withdrew all 25 nominees to gain time to find a solution, reports Boston Globe.

So strongly did Socialist and Liberal members of the &to=http:// ' target=_blank>European Parliament object to Buttiglione's conservative views that they threatened to veto the entire line-up proposed by the European Commission president-elect, Jose Manuel Barroso.

Rather than face such a defeat and the certainty of a major political crisis even before he took office, Barroso withdrew all his nominees. Buttiglioni, 56, said he was "offering my resignation to help the Barroso commission succeed."

Barroso himself made no comment Saturday about Buttiglioni's move, his spokeswoman Pia Ahrenkilde saying only that "has taken note of the decision" and was working to find a solution "quickly", wrote Turkish Press.

According to the Guardian, yesterday, Buttiglione insisted he was a 'champion of human rights' not an adversary and had been targeted for his conservative views. 'I may think that homosexuality is a sin, but politics doesn't have to get involved in that,' he said.

Humanity periodically decides to purify itself by choosing 'an innocent victim' to take on the woes of everyone else, he said: 'This time I have been chosen for this task and I don't complain about it too much.'

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