Pope tilts at gay marriage
Pope Benedict denounced gay marriage and abortion yesterday in a sermon at the consecration of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) church.
In another of his pointed tilts at Spain's "aggressive secularism", he said the country's legalisation of abortion on demand this year, and of gay marriage in 2005, stoked tensions with the Vatican. Madrid has tried to play down points of dispute during the pope's two-day visit.
Gays and lesbians kissed in public in protest at the church's position as the pope passed on his way to the fantastically embellished modernist church designed by Antoni Gaudi and under construction for 128 years.
"The church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family," the pope said.
"The indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context of human life in its gestation, birth, growth, and natural end," he said, criticising gay marriage.
Before yesterday the Sagrada Familia - which will eventually seat more than 10000 people - had not been used as a church.
Gaudi died in 1926 and construction has been slow, funded only by visitor admission fees and private donations.
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero promoted legalisation of gay marriage, including adoption rights, and a law allowing abortion on demand for women 16 years and older during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Spain, where 76% of the people consider themselves Catholic, was the third country in the world to legalise homosexual marriage.
The pope, on his second visit to Spain since being elected, drew criticism from leftist commentators for remarks he made on his flight to the country on Saturday. He said Spain was going through a period of "aggressive secularism like we saw in the 1930s".