Pope Benedict XVI has concluded his six-day visit to the United States with a speech that spoke against abortion and gay marriage.
Before a crowd of over 60,000 people, the head of the Catholic church ended his first visit to the United States with a reminder to the that “obedience” to the authority of the church is the foundation of their religious faith.
The Pope rejected the “false dichotomy between faith and political life” in clear direction to 65 million members of the US Church to obey the position of Vatican.
The 81 year old pontiff chose to use the event as a platform to talk about his tough anti abortion stance, urging the packed stadium to protect, “the most defenseless of human beings, the unborn child in mother’s womb.”
The Catholic Church directly condemns any artificial birth control or sexual acts aside from intercourse, between married heterosexual partners.
The Vatican have argued that condom-promotion programs encourage promiscuity, thereby actually increasing STD transmission.
The tour will be best remembered for his repeated comments about the shame of the church’s clergy sexual abuse crisis.
The issue of sexual abuse of children by priests over the decades has cost the Church around two billion dollars (£1.01 bn) in legal fees and compensation and forced closure the of dozens of parishes.
Speaking of the importance of, “not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal,” the pope told the crowd to “overcome every separation between faith and life, and counter false gospels of freedom and happiness”.
All the billboards in New Yorks Yankee Stadium were covered with the black cloth to ensure solemnity of the ceremony.
“Authority. Obedience. To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays,” the pope said in his homily during the Mass, “especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom.”
The Pope was cheered by the crowd as he entered the venue in the bulletproof Popemobile.
A recent poll had found that more than 60 per cent Catholics do not agree with Church’s teaching on abortion, women’s rights and gay marriages. But that did not deter the Pope from expressing his firm opinion on these controversial issues.
The Pope, in a rare gesture, was received by President George Bush himself when he arrived in Washington to begin the visit.
It was widely reported in April 2006 that the Vatican had launched a commission to investigate and prepare a document regarding the question of whether there are any cases when a married person may use condoms to protect against infection from their spouse.
Though no conclusions have yet been reached, the investigation has surprised many Catholics in the wake of John Paul II’s consistent refusal to consider condom use in response to AIDS and the widespread belief that his successor shared this view.
In November 2005 the Pope had listed several ways to combat the spread of HIV, including chastity, fidelity in marriage and anti-poverty efforts with no mention of condoms.
Time magazine reported in its April 30, 2006 edition that the Vatican’s position remains what it always has been with Vatican officials “flatly dismissing reports that the Vatican is about to release a document that will condone any condom use.”