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Speaking in the frescoed Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, the 85-year-old pope said the family was being threatened by "a false understanding of freedom" and a repudiation of life-long commitment in heterosexual marriage.

The Vatican went on a similar anti-gay marriage media blitz last month after three U. Italy's main gay rights group Arcigay called the pope's comments "absurd, dangerous and totally out of synch with reality." And a coalition of four US Catholic organizations representing gay, lesbian and transgender people said the pope had an "outmoded" view of what it means to be man and woman.That’s because, “according to the order of creation, conjugal love between a man and a woman, and the transmission of life are ordered to each other.” I’ve defended this argument to friends and colleagues who support same-sex marriage. Strict biological distinctions between groups of people are rare, but this is one of them: Same-sex couples can’t produce biological children together.A rational person can stipulate that no relationship between two people categorically incapable of producing children together—i.e., a same-sex couple—can be a marriage.“But there is no denying the crisis that threatens it to its foundations – especially in the western world.” He quoted a recent essay by the Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, which he said detailed “the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child”.“While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being – of what being human really means – is being called into question,” the Pope added.