The marriage between two people of the same sex undermines the family unit and therefore forms an imminent threat to humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday.
The head of the Vatican spoke during his New Year's talk on Monday, addressing a group of international 179 Vatican diplomats.
Speaking about the crucial role of education in society, the pontiff said in his speech that young people should be led "to a full knowledge of reality and thus of truth, education needs settings. Among these, pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman. This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society. Consequently, policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself."
It is not the first time the Catholic leader spoke out against gay marriage.
In May 2010, while visiting Portugal, the media quoted him condemning same sex marriage as a dangerous and insidious challenge to society. He furthermore insisted that marriage is something between a man and a woman only.
Individuals and civil rights organisations have slammed the Pope and his most recent statements. "The Pope is clearly out of touch and out of his mind. Very sad that people still think that way in 2012," tweeted KingBiyela from South Africa. Others jokingly remarked that that the Pope has no right to reject gay marriage because of him being "a man who lives with men, wears dresses and takes a soft stance on child abuse."
In last year's Christmas address, the religious leader said that paedophilia in the 1970s was considered normal to some people and "theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children."
“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than' and a ‘worse than'. Nothing is good or bad in itself," he added.
Pope Benedict has in addition been accused of not doing enough to deal with complaints regarding a US priest who was accused of abusing 200 deaf boys in the 1970s.
The BBC back in the days reported the following:
An archbishop wrote letters in 1996 to the Vatican watchdog led by Cardinal Ratzinger calling for disciplinary proceedings against Fr Lawrence Murphy, according to Church and Vatican documents. Fr Murphy was a popular priest who is believed to have molested some 200 boys at St John's School for the Deaf in St Francis, Wisconsin, between 1950 and 1974.Victims say Fr Murphy - who died in 1998 - assaulted boys while hearing their confessions, in his office, his car, at his mother's house and in their dormitory beds. He was quietly moved to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes and schools, according to one lawsuit.
It should be noted police didn't prosecute Murphy.
For the entire content of the Pope's speeches of January 2012 and May 2010, click here and here