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. He told Catholics they must defend traditional family values against gay marriage 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." 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.