Pope John Paul II on Monday called for more opposition to laws approving gay marriage and rights for unwed couples, urged a vast public mobilization against hunger, and restated the Roman Catholic Church's ban on stem cell use.
The pontiff set out the Vatican's priorities for 2005 in his traditional New Year's address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, representing 174 countries.
In an obvious reference to laws in several countries or localities permitting same-sex marriage or equating the social rights of unwed couples to married ones, the pope said that in some countries the family's "natural structure" is challenged. Families, he said, "must necessarily be that of a union between a man and a woman founded on marriage."
The 84-year-old Pope John Paul, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, looked alert and held up well as the ambassadors and their spouses came to him in turn to shake his hand or kiss it. The pope exchanged a few words with many of them, smiling graciously and offering his blessing.