VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II (search) called Thursday for the support of the "authentic" Christian family, which he defined as based on marriage between men and women.
The pope did not specifically mention his opposition to gay marriage, but his speech to parish priests in Rome made clear he considers matrimony a bond between a man and a woman.
Recalling his years as a cleric in his native Poland, John Paul said, "I learned some time ago, when I was in Krakow, to live close to couples, to families. I also closely followed the path that led two persons, a man and a woman, to create a family and, with marriage, to become spouses and parents, with all the consequences we know so well."
"Our theme is the family," he told the priests. "Family means: 'And He created them man and woman."'
The pope urged the priests to teach young people "to understand and appreciate the real meaning of love and to prepare themselves to form authentic Christian families."
The Vatican has been waging a global campaign against moves to grant legal recognition to gay couples, calling it an issue of "natural moral law."