Pope speaks out against gay marriage
During his visit to Croatia, Pope John Paul II voiced his strongest condemnation to date of same-sex unions, stating that a marriage must consist of only a man and a woman.
An estimated 100,000 people gathered for the mass in Rijeka on Sunday to hear the Holy Father defend traditional family values in the context of today's "tragically fragmented and divided" society.
Until Sunday, the Pope had focused on reconciliation of the Balkan people, who were torn apart by war in the early 1990s. But his Rijeka homily was devoted to the family.
"God's authentic plan," he said, was founded on "the stable and faithful union of a man and a woman, bound to each other with a bond that is publicly manifested and recognised."
He said the family needs "special consideration and concrete policies aimed at promoting and protecting its essential nature, its development and stability."
Executive Director of Catholic gay rights organisation DignityUSA said the Holy Father's remarks represented a political rather than spiritual agenda.
Last January, the pope described same-sex relationships as "inauthentic", arguing that "such a 'caricature' has no future and cannot give future to any society."
Papal Visit to Croatia (official site) | Homily Delivered by Pope John Paul II at a Mass for the Family
Apostolic Journey to Croatia, 5-9 June 2003 (Vatican website)
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