BY NICOLE WINFIELD, ASSOCIATED PRESS
As debate over health care coverage for birth control rages in the United States, Benedict said there was an urgent need for Catholics in America to discover the value of chastity - an essential element of Christian teaching that he said had been subject to unjust "ridicule."
Benedict has long championed traditional marriage between man and woman, as well as opposition to premarital sex and fidelity within marriage. But his strong comments to visiting U.S. bishops took on particular significance given the culture wars that have erupted in the U.S. this campaign season.
Here's a follow-up news release sent on the Christian Newswire:
Pope Benedict Attacked for Defending Marriage
HLI Defends Holy Father from Uninformed and Unfair Attacks in Media
FRONT ROYAL, Va., March 9, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- Human Life International President Father Shenan J. Boquet today defended Pope Benedict XVI, whose statement in defense of chastity and traditional marriage has started an uproar in the media. The Holy Father was speaking to several U.S. Bishops who were in Rome for an ad limina visit.
"We are deeply grateful for our Holy Father's strong defense of marriage and the family -- the two natural institutions that are most necessary to a flourishing society, and which are under severe attack in America," said Fr. Boquet. "The inarguable wisdom recalled by Pope Benedict and his predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II -- that the future of humanity passes by way of the family -- deserves a fair hearing and discussion. It does not deserve vilification from those who increasingly demonstrate their inability to present or even to recognize a rational argument, and who demonstrate profound disrespect for those with whom they disagree."
The Holy Father instructed the bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota that the task of defending the sanctity of marriage and respect for human sexuality is among the most important pastoral duties of bishops today. In his statement, Pope Benedict recalled a quote from his letter Sacramentum Caritatis, in which he said:
[T]he good that the Church and society as a whole expect from marriage and from the family founded on marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area. Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself.
"It is a sad day for our nation when basic reason and sanity are considered controversial or even 'hateful'," said Fr. Boquet. "Those who attack marriage and its defenders would have us believe that the wreckage caused by divorce, out of wedlock births, and sexual promiscuity are somehow good for the nation. They would have us ignore the obvious truth of the benefits of marriage for women, men and society. But lies like this which are promoted by radicals and defended by the mainstream media are increasingly being seen for what they are."
"We stand with our bishops and the Holy Father in defending the most natural and essential human institution of marriage."
About HLI: Human Life International: For the Glory of God and defense of Life, Faith and Family. Founded in 1981, HLI is the world's largest international pro-life and pro-family organization, with affiliates and associates in over 100 countries on six continents. www.hli.org