A new book by the Pontifical Biblical Commission cannot be read as opening the Catholic Church to the acceptance of gay marriage or homosexual unions, said the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

"There does not exist any 'opening' to unions between persons of the same sex as some people erroneously have claimed," Archbishop Giacomo Morandi, the doctrinal official, told Vatican News Dec. 19.

The archbishop was commenting on issues raised by an in-depth study of the human person in the Bible conducted by the international group of biblical scholars and theologians on the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

The commission released its 336-page book, in Italian, "What Is Man? An Itinerary of Biblical Anthropology," explaining that it is designed as a launching pad for further biblical, theological and philosophical study.

The book looks at the entire Bible in an attempt to respond to questions about the meaning of human life and, especially, how that meaning is found in biblical descriptions of the human relationship with God and with others.

The question of homosexuality is treated in a chapter on "The Human Family."

While discussing the few mentions of homosexual activity in the Bible, the book also noted the danger of focusing only on one or two of the passages taken out of context and said that same-sex attraction is not discussed, only homosexual activity.

Archbishop Morandi noted how, especially in the West, many people have objected to the Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality, arguing that the biblical passages are a "simple reflection of an archaic, historically conditioned mentality."

The contributions of natural and human sciences have helped the Catholic Church take a different point of view on "various biblical affirmations in the cosmological, biological and sociological sphere," he said. "In that sense, some people affirm that a new or more adequate understanding of the human person would require a radical reservation about the exclusive value of heterosexual unions in favor of an analogous acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual unions as a legitimate and worthy expression of being human."

But Archbishop Morandi rejected such an argument as "an ideological and partial approach to anthropology."

"In reality," he said, "the document in N. 185 affirms: 'The institution of marriage constituted by a stable relationship between husband and wife is constantly presented as evident and normative in the entire biblical tradition. There are no examples of a legally recognized 'union' between persons of the same sex.'"