Pope points finger at Netherlands on legal gay marriage
    Pope John Paul II has reminded the new Netherlands ambassador to the Holy See that same sex unions - recently legalised by the Netherlands - are 'not equal' to marriage.
    Before the admonition on gay marriages, the Holy Father began his audience with the ambassador by speaking about economies, which must be "at the service of all men to enable them to live and allow them to play their corresponding role in society."
    He then went on to refer to the Dutch Parliament's recent recognition of homosexual couples, which also authorises the adoption of children by two people of the same sex.
    The Holy Father confirmed the absolute position of the Catholic Church on marriage, emphasising that "no form of relation between persons can be considered equal to the natural relation between a man and a woman, who through their love give life to children."
    As regards the Church in the Netherlands, where Catholics constitute 33% of the population, Protestants 21%, and Muslims 4.1%, the Pope encouraged pastors and faithful to continue "in their mission of explicit proclamation of the Gospel and participation in social life."