LA STAMPA, LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), AFP
VATICAN CITY - The Pope's regular Christmas season schedule is underway, with Friday featuring the lighting of the Christmas tree in St Peter's Square and the release of the text of Benedict XVI's message for the World Day of Peace.
The pontiff's annual message covered familiar ground: human dignity, religious tolerance, economic justice and, of course, peace itself.
But there were other ideas that not all "people of good will" necessarily share, including some notably strong language on gay marriage, as a debate rages on legalizing same-sex unions in traditionally Catholic countries like France and Uruguay.
Laws granting legal status for gay unions, he said, "actually harm and help destabilize marriage" by obscuring its specific nature as a union between man and woman that forms the basis of society, La Stampa reports. "These principles are not truths of faith, or a derivation of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, identifiable with reason and are therefore common to all mankind."
Strong stuff, though hardly surprising. Still, this combative "message of peace" raises a question from the real BIG papal news of the week: His Holiness' hopping (and hoping) on Twitter.
Though it has since topped one million followers, Benedict's @Pontifex account has been quiet since firing off his first seven tweets on Wednesday with plenty of 140-character eloquence, but little edginess:
Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you— Benedict XVI (@Pontifex) December 12, 2012
Amidst all the online giddiness about a tweeting Pope, no one asked when or if he will cover more controversial ground on the network. A former professor of theology, Benedict is known for his sharp prose.
His message Friday said that gay marriage, abortion and assisted suicide are an "offense against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace." Wow, that would work as a tweet, and is well within Twitter's 140-character limit; and anyone with any experience tweeting knows: such provocative messages are the way to get lots of followers, which is after all what Popes are about. The problem is that such clarity is how you lose them too...
Photo: @twitrome via Twitter