Over the weekend Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics to defend the integrity of one man-one woman marriage and to shun lukewarm faith that he said damages the church.
The 84-year-old Pope, touring his native Germany last week, ended the third day of his visit Saturday with a rally for about 30 000 young people just outside the southern city of Freiburg.
During his speech the Pope touched on abortion, contraception, gay marriage, assisted dying, and also focused on rallying the young believers against being “uncommitted” to their faith.
Christian churches “are walking side by side” in the battle against threats posed by abortion and gay marriage, the pontiff said.
“They speak up jointly for the protection of human life from conception to natural death,” he said during the meeting. “Knowing, too, the value of family and marriage, we as Christians attach great importance to defending the integrity and the uniqueness of marriage between one man and one woman from any kind of misinterpretation.”
“The world in which we live, in spite of its technical progress, does not seem to be getting any better,” he told the young people. “There is still war and terror, hunger and disease, bitter poverty and merciless oppression.”
He urged them to root out all forms of evil in society and not to be “lukewarm Christians,” saying that lack of commitment to faith did more damage to their Church than its sworn enemies.
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At an evening prayer vigil on the city’s outskirts, he urged more than 20,000 youth to overcome “a tendency toward evil,” encompassing “selfishness, envy, aggression.”
“Again and again in history, keen observers have pointed out that damage to the church comes not from opponents, but from uncommitted Christians,” he said.
Last year the Pope took several swipes at gay marriage, saying that allowing same-sex couples to marry created “confusion” in society that led away from so-called natural roles and, during an appearance in Portugal, he also appeared to describe gay marriage as “insidious and dangerous.”
The Pope has been criticized for his hard-line stance on a variety of topics, most notably condom use. Until recently the pontiff opposed condoms outright, but has since said they may be acceptable in “exceptional” cases.
As mentioned above, needling abortion and gay rights have become routine for the Pope but so too are the protests that accompany his visits. His trip to Germany has been no exception, with the AP reporting that around 9,000 people took to the streets of Berlin in Thursday to protest. You can see pictures over at The Advocate.