From .......... Associated Press
March 26, 1994
Description: Pope Launches Moral Crusade
ROME (AP) -- He chatted with moms and dads, encouraged children preparing for their first communion and blessed a baby held up in the crowd of parishioners. Then the pope turned stern.
"I'm not strict, I'm gentle by nature," said Pope John Paul II.
"But when it comes to defending principles, I don't bend."
He then went on to condemn homosexual marriage.
The recent parish visit was part of a new crusade against homosexuality, contraception, abortion, euthanasia and other elements of modern society the pope believes have no place in Roman Catholicism.
"No human society can run the risk of permissiveness in fundamental issues regarding the nature of the family," the pope, in the 16th year of his pontificate, wrote in a recent message to Roman Catholic families.
He is considering addressing the U.N. General Assembly in New York in October to give his views worldwide resonance. The United Nations has declared 1994 the International Year of the Family, as has the church.
He has already served notice that the Vatican will battle to block any reference to abortion from the final resolution of a U.N. population conference in September, as it successfully did 10 years ago in Mexico City.
The pope staked out his position in an encyclical last October that declared morality was not a matter of opinion and that certain acts are always evil.
"What the pope is doing is playing out the implications of that encyclical,"
said George Weigel, a theologian from the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
"The challenge presented (by homosexual marriage) cuts right to the heart."
But in a world of scientific advances that have produced the day-after abortion pill and made possible in-vitro births, the pope's words often seem to fall on deaf ears.
In January, he urged Italian Catholic pharmacists to reject selling condoms and other birth control devices. But there are no signs any pharmacy has taken down the racks of multicolored packs of condoms on their counters.
"It's not like abortion, where the law allows doctors to be conscientious objectors,"
said Giovanni Milozza in his store on the busy Via del Corso.
"If someone comes in with a prescription for birth control pills, you have to sell them."
In the case of homosexual marriages, John Paul is trying to head off legislators from recognizing such unions.
In a rare attack on a specific political institution, he assailed a resolution adopted by the European Parliament Feb. 8 that homosexual couples be allowed to marry and adopt children, and urged the 12 parliaments in the European Union to reject it.
He returned to the subject during his visit to the Church of St. Bernard of Chiaravalle in a lower-class Rome neighborhood, condemning "false and fictitious families composed of two men or two women."
"We respect every man and every woman, but to build a family on that basis is wrong and dangerous," he declared.
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