Pope John Paul II today condemned same sex marriage as an attack on the fabric of society and called on Catholics to combat what he said was aggressive attempt to legally undermine the family.
"Attacks on marriage and the family, from an ideological and legal aspect, are becoming stronger and more radical every day," the 84-year old pontiff said in the unusually strong statement. "Who destroys this fundamental fabric causes a profound injury to society and provokes often irreparable damage."
The Catholic Church teaches that marriage between a man and a women is sacred and that homosexuality is a sin. That stance has been under pressure in some of its core constituencies, including the United States and Catholic Spain where the socialist government in October approved a controversial draft law to legalise gay unions.
But a counterattack has begun. In the United States, President George W. Bush was swept back to power in the November elections with help from US evangelicals and Catholics who agree with the Pope.
Votes for Mr Bush included solid support from the religious right and his win was interpreted by some as a victory for conservative Christians on issues like gay rights and abortion.
The Pope today also condemned abortion, artificial procreation an equal status for cohabiting couples as undermining the marital state.
"These things that are presented as civilised progress or scientific conquests, in many cases are in fact a defeat for the dignity of human life and for society," his statement read.