- (Reuters/Susana Vera)
The Pope has again condemned same-sex marriage and on Monday warned that it is a threat to humanity.
Speaking directly to international diplomats at a New Year’s address, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged various economic and social factors that he says affect the world today.
"Policies which undermine the family threaten human dignity and the future of humanity itself," The Pontiff said, according to Reuters.
"The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states," he said. "Pride of place goes to the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman," he added.
While gay rights activists have been working to legalize same-sex marriages throughout Europe, the Vatican has been vocal in condemning the redefinition of marriage.
The U.S. government has long been criticized by the Vatican for its reluctance to place a federal ban on same-sex marriage.
Despite the Pope's criticisms, a number of Christian denominations continue to support same-sex marriage throughout the world.
Congregations in the U.S., such as Evangelical Lutheran Church In America and United Church of Christ, have expressed their support for same-sex marriage, with many offering to perform gay wedding ceremonies.
In 2009, a very large congregation known as Evangelical Lutheran Church In America released a "Social Statement On Human Sexuality" in favor of same-sex marriages.
The statement urged congregants to embrace "publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous, same gender relationships."
"We know, therefore, that God’s love embraces us totally, including our sexuality," the statement read.
Other same-sex marriage supporters include United Church of Canada, Metropolitan Community Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
Although gay marriage advocates argue that legalizing same-sex marriage promotes social equality, the Pontiff insisted that children need the right "setting" for their educational development and suggested that traditional marriages between men and women best facilitate this.
"This is not a simple social convention, but rather the fundamental cell of every society," the pope argued.
"There is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue," he added.
The pope made the controversial speech during a key address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Vatican.