Pope Benedict XVI chose a speech to bishops in the United States on Friday to call on them to resist marriage equality.
This follows marriage equality laws being signed in Washington and Maryland, with a number of other states looking to consider the gay marriage question at the ballot this year.
“Sexual differences cannot be dismissed as irrelevant to the definition of marriage,” the pope said, warning against “the powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage”.
“Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature.”
He also said bishops could not overlook “the serious pastoral problem presented by the widespread practice of cohabitation”.
“The contemporary crisis of marriage and the family… has led to grave societal problems bearing an immense human and economic cost,” he added.
The Pope previously branded marriage equality a threat to humanity and has frequently spoken of his belief that that only a man and a woman can successfully raise children and maintain societal advancement.
He does so contrary to a wealth of data that supports that same-sex couples are at least as capable of raising well adjusted children as their straight counterparts.
Given its timing, the Pope’s message must also be considered a rallying call to clergy in Britain too, where the push for gay marriage has over the past few weeks seen a fiercely hostile response from many Catholic leaders in the country.