Pope Benedict XVI has condemned gay marriage as an 'insidious' threat to society as he addressed thousands of pilgrims at the shrine of Fatima in Portugal.
He encouraged his listeners to work against a proposed law that will legal gay marriage.
The Pope was wrapping up his trip to Portugal where more than 90 per cent of the population is officially Catholic.
Pope Benedict XVI leads the Rosary at the Chapel of the Apparitions in Fatima's Sanctuary where 500,000 pilgrims attended. He used the event to condemn gay marriage and abortion
In his afternoon address to Catholic charity and social workers, the 83-year-old German Pope said he 'deeply appreciated' initiatives aimed at defending what he said were 'essential and primary values of life'.
Among these values, he said, was 'the family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman', which is Vatican-speak for its opposition to gay marriage.
The audience applauded when the Pope said abortion - which has been legal in Portugal since 2007 - and threats to heterosexual marriage were 'among some of the most insidious and dangerous challenges facing the common good today'.
Portugal's parliament last January passed a bill by the minority Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Socrates that would legalise same-sex marriages.
The government rejected alternative proposals by the centre-right opposition for civil partnerships and a referendum on gay marriage.
President Anibal Cavaco Silva is under pressure from the Church and conservative groups not to ratify the bill. If he vetoes it, parliament can override the veto with another vote.
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