Pope Benedict took an unconventional approach today to stand up to what he sees as gender-bending, saying protecting heterosexuality was as important as saving the rainforest. (Photo: Pope Benedict addresses the Curia, 22 Dec 2008/Max Rossi)

(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed,” the pontiff said in a holiday address to the Curia, the Vatican’s central administration.“The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less.”

The Pope stressed that the Church would defend the traditional roles of “a man and woman, and to ask that this order of creation be respected”.

He turned his attention to those people who call themselves in Italian “gender” or “transgender” — a broad term that includes anyone who doesn’t identify entirely with their assigned sex and can include homosexuals, bisexuals, pansexuals and others.

“What’s often expressed and understood with the term ‘gender’, is summed up definitively in the self-emancipation of man from the created and the Creator … But in this way, he lives in opposition to truth, he lives in opposition to the Creator,” the pope said. Here’s a link to the full text in Italian and a report on it by the leading daily Corriere della Sera (also in Italian),