As efforts to legalize same-sex “marriage” proceed in the United States and countries around the world, Pope Benedict issued strong remarks on Jan. 14, saying that gay “marriage” perverts the “essence and goal of the family.”
Addressing officials from the city of Rome and the Italian region of Lazio, Pope Benedict said that legislation and policies that promote same-sex unions end up “penalizing” heterosexual couples, “who, not without effort, seek to maintain stable emotional ties which are juridically guaranteed and publicly recognized.”
“To this end,” he stressed, “the various components of society must agree on the objectives of education, in order for human love not to be reduced to an article of consumption, but to be seen and lived as a fundamental experience which gives existence meaning and a goal.”
The Pope made his comments to Gianni Alemanno, mayor of the City of Rome; Renata Polverini, president of the Region of Lazio, and Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Province of Rome, for the country's traditional exchange of New Year greetings.
Though currently not legal in Italy, same-sex “marriage” has been approved legislatively in countries across the globe as well as several states in the U.S.
Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa and Washington, D.C have all legalized gay “marriage” in the last two years, with similar initiatives being pushed in other states under the guise of marriage as a civil right.
In California, a panel of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges is currently hearing arguments from supporters and opponents of Proposition 8 – a traditional marriage initiative which passed in November 2008 with the support of seven million Californians – in a landmark case that will most likely reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
In Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence is warning that the “frenetic rush” to recognize gay “marriage” in the state is morally wrong and that Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other state leaders are pushing the legislation without adequate debate.
The Pope underscored in his Jan. 14 remarks to officials on Friday that the family is “primary cell of society” which is “founded on marriage between a man and a woman.”
He noted that it “is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable constructive and peaceful coexistence,” and it “is in the family that we learn solidarity between generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and acceptance of others.”
In this context, he said that “the family must, then, be supported by policies ... which aim at its consolidation and development, accompanied by appropriate educational efforts.”
The Pope emphasized the importance "of giving concrete support to maternity, and of guaranteeing working women the chance to conciliate the demands of family and work.” He said that many couples desire to have children "but are forced to wait" over lack of ability to balance family and work needs.
The pontiff also spoke of the need to support women in crisis pregnancy situations, saying that “openness to life is at the center of true development” and warning that “the large number of abortions that take place in our region cannot leave us indifferent.”
"The Christian community, through its many care homes, pro-life centers and similar initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who encounter difficulties in welcoming a new life,” he said. “Public institutions must also offer their support so that family consultancies are in a position to help women overcome the causes that may lead them to interrupt their pregnancy.”
Pope Benedict also discussed the negative effects of unemployment on young people who “often feel disillusioned and are tempted to reject society itself” when they can't find work.
It is “vital,” he added, “even in this difficult time, to make every effort to promote policies that favor employment and dignified assistance, which is indispensable in order to give life to new families.”