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Pope Benedict says gay marriage 'threatens future of humanity itself'

Leader of Catholic Church makes statement to diplomats from 180 countries
Pope Benedict says homosexuality threatens humanity.

Pope Benedict XVI made his strongest comments against gay marriage - ever - in a speech at The Vatican on Monday.

Giving a New Year address to diplomatic corps from 180 countries, Reuters reports that the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said gay marriage was one of several treats that 'undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself.'

'The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue,' Benedict told the diplomats. 'This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society.'

He also said 'pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman.'

Benedict had never before had claimed that it was among the things that threatened the future of humanity.

But he has spoken out against gay marriage several times in the past. Even before he was elevated to Pope, Benedict had long been one of the leading anti-gay voices within the Catholic Church.

In a 1986 pastoral letter to bishops, he called homosexuality 'an intrinsic moral evil' and 'an objective disorder'.

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