POPE Francis said a global war against marriage was underway and Catholics must respond by helping couples stay strong and by providing pastoral care to those experiencing difficulty.
The Pope also described “gender theory” as “a great enemy of marriage”.
“Today there is a global war to destroy marriage,” the Pope said on October 1 during a meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, with priests, religious, seminarians and laypeople active in parish life.
“Today you do not destroy with weapons, you destroy with ideas,” the pope said. “It is ideological colonisation that destroys.”
In an Australian context, Pope Francis has delivered his message at a pivotal time – with the same-sex marriage issue high on the political agenda.
Federal politicians are poised to decide whether there should be a plebiscite on allowing same-sex marriage in February 2017.
The Labor opposition is expected to officially make its position clear on whether to support a national vote, when parliament resumes on October 10.
Without Labor’s backing, the Turnbull Government lacks the numbers needed to pass the enabling legislation through the Senate.
However, if Labor blocks a plebiscite, the same-sex marriage issue could be decided by a free vote in parliament.
The Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage.
“Marriage is the most beautiful thing that God has created,” Pope Francis said during his visit to Georgia, and speaking about contemporary challenges.
In marriage, man and woman become one flesh, “the image of God.”
He insisted Catholic clergy and faithful must do everything possible to assist couples experiencing difficulty.
“Welcome, accompany, discern, integrate,” he said.
“The Catholic community must help to save marriages.”
Later, aboard a flight returning to Rome, Pope Francis was asked, given his criticism of “gender theory” and of what he describes as “ideological colonization,” how he would provide pastoral care to a person who felt his or her sexuality did not correspond to his or her biology.
Pope Francis began responding to the reporter’s question by saying that as a priest, a bishop and even as pope he has “accompanied people with homosexual tendencies and even homosexual activity. I accompanied them; I helped them draw closer to the Lord, although some couldn’t. But I never abandoned them.”
“People must be accompanied like Jesus would accompany them,” he said.
“When a person who has this situation arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual.’ No.”
Pope Francis said what he was condemning was “indoctrination of gender theory,” teaching small children that no matter their biological sex, they could choose their gender.
By Catholic News Service and Mark Bowling