Pope says Catholic Church must stand firm against “intolerant agnosticism”
Pope Benedict said on Sunday that Roman Catholic leaders must have the courage to stand up to attacks by “intolerant agnosticism” prevalent in many countries.
The pope and the Church have come under increased attack because of their opposition to homosexual marriage and women priests. The pope has repeatedly denounced what he says are attempts to push religion out of public debate.
The 85-year-old pontiff celebrated Mass on the day Christians in the West mark the Epiphany, and ordained four new archbishops including his personal secretary.
In a homily to about 10,000 people in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, he firmly rejected suggestions the Church should change to suit public opinion.
“Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking,” he said. “The approval of the prevailing wisdom, however, is not the criterion to which we submit.”
In the United States, a group last month started a petition on the White House website asking the administration of President Barack Obama to list the Catholic Church as a “hate group” because of its opposition to gay marriage. And in France, the Socialist government stepped up its war of words with the Church over same-sex marriage, saying that Catholic schools should not hold discussions on the issue with their pupils and regional education authorities should report to Paris any Catholic schools where discussions include statements against homosexuals.