From the news ticker, with my commentary in parentheses:
During an open-air mass Sunday in the port city of Reijeka in Croatia, Pope John Paul II issued his strongest condemnation to date of same-sex unions, urging Catholics to defend "traditional family values." The pontiff's entire sermon to the 100,000 who gathered on a very hot day to hear him speak was devoted to attacking gay families. (The entire sermon? Didn't he have anything more relevant to talk about, like the neverending war in Iraq?) He told Catholics they must defend traditional family values against gay marriage (but not priests who molest children) and put a "tragically fragmented" society back on track with God's wishes.
"God's authentic plan" for the family, the pontiff 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 recognized." The traditional family, he said needs "special consideration and concrete policies aimed at promoting and protecting its essential nature, its development and stability." (In other words, the Pope is trying to stick his nose in the business of government, while he would take offense at the government prosecuting priests who molest children). To cheers, the pope added that the fact that society is so divided "is the reason why it is so desperately unfulfilled." He urged the crowd not to be afraid of publicly defending traditional family values in modern society.
A few thoughts:
Every day in every way, the church becomes less relevant. Attendance at Catholic churches, as a percentage of population, falls every year. And the lack of priesthood candidates means more churches will close. In Poland, the Pope's homeland and a Catholic stronghold, the population voted by an overwhelming majority this past weekend to join the European Union, even though it will mean dilution of the Church's power over social issues such as homosexuality and abortion. Even a member of my family--a youth counselor for the church--has told me some of the Pope's positions on sexuality are way off base.