Humanity must be saved from homosexuality - Pope
Pope Benedict said yesterday that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.
"(The Church) should also protect man from the destruction of himself. A sort of ecology of man is needed," the pontiff said in a Christmas 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 Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. It opposes gay marriage and, in October, a leading Vatican official called homosexuality "a deviation, an irregularity, a wound".
The Pope said humanity needed to "listen to the language of creation" to understand the intended roles of man and woman. He dismissed behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations as "a destruction of God's work".
He also defended the Church's right to "speak of human nature as man and woman, and ask that this order of creation be respected".
Pope Benedict also said yesterday he didn't think of himself as a "rock star" despite his popularity among the young.
And the Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations, which take place every three years in different cities around the globe, are more than just a party for young faithful, he said.
Benedict's predecessor Pope John Paul II, often described as having a rock star-like following among Catholic youth, began the World Youth Days to inspire the faithful.
"Popular analysis tends to consider these days a church version of modern youth culture, as a type of rock festival with the Pope as star," Benedict said in his Christmas greetings to the Vatican Curia.
But he said the ability of young Catholics to create a sense of community during the meetings shows they are more than just parties. "In this way also the Pope is not the star around which everything revolves," he said. "He is totally, and only, the vicar."
Benedict attended the youth event in Cologne, Germany in 2005, this past summer in Sydney, and he has said he also plans to attend the next one in Madrid, in 2011.
It was also revealed yesterday that the Pope will visit the Holy Land in May, according to a Palestinian source in the West Bank, visiting Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories from May 8 to 12.
Vatican sources said last month that the visit was planned and would probably take place in spring but declined to divulge dates. The trip, significant for political and religious relations in the Middle East, would be Benedict's first to the Holy Land since his election in 2005.
Two of his predecessors in modern times -- John Paul II and Paul VI -- visited the Holy Land.
The source said the Pope will visit Jordan from May 8-10 and Israel from May 10-11.
He will go to Bethlehem on May 12 and also possibly visit Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied territories.