Pope Benedict XVI used an annual end of the year address to say that the protection of the environment is directly linked to defending “traditional” marriage against gay rights, especially gay marriage.
A Reuters headline says "Pope likens "saving" gays to saving the rainforest" but what he is really saying that if you want to save the rainforests, stop acid rain and clear cutting, and if you want to save humanity, stop gay rights.
James Allen at National Catholic Reporter summarizes:
“Because faith in the Creator is an essential part of the Christian creed, the church cannot and must not limit itself to transmitting only the message of salvation to its faithful,” Benedict said. “It has a responsibility for creation, and must express this responsibility in public.”
At the same time, Benedict clearly distinguished the church’s approach from secular environmental movements – insisting that concern for tropical rain forests and the church’s traditional pro-life commitments, including sexual morality, are indissolubly linked.
“[The church] must defend not only the earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to all,” he said. “It must also defend the human person against its own destruction. What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected.”
“Here it’s a question of faith in creation, in listening to the language of creation, disregard of which would mean self-destruction of the human person and hence destruction of the very work of God,” the pope said. “That which is often expressed and understood by the term ‘gender’ in the end amounts to the self-emancipation of the human person from creation and from the Creator. Human beings want to do everything by themselves, and to control exclusively everything that regards them. But in this way, the human person lives against the truth, against the Creator Spirit.”
“Yes, the tropical forests merit our protection, but the human being as a creature merits no less protection – a creature in which a message is written which does not imply a contradiction of our liberty, but the condition for it,” the pope said.
On that basis, Benedict offered a defense of traditional marriage and Catholic sexual morality.
“Great Scholastic theologians defined marriage, meaning the lifetime bond between a man and a woman, as a sacrament of creation, which the Creator instituted and which Christ – without changing the message of creation – then welcomed into the story of his covenant with humanity,” the pope said. “This witness in favor of the Creator Spirit, present in the nature of this bond and in a special way in the nature of the human person, is also part of the proclamation which the church must offer. Starting from this perspective, it’s important to re-read the encyclical Humanae Vitae : the intention of Pope Paul VI was to defend love against treating sexuality as a kind of consumption, the future against the exclusive demands of the present, and the nature of the human being against manipulation.”
The Australian reports that the Vatican's view is connected to their opposition to "gender theory:"
Gender theory, which originated in the United States, explores sexual orientation, the roles assigned by society to individuals according to their gender and how people perceive their biological identity.
The Catholic Church has repeatedly spoken out against gender theory, which gay and transgender advocacy groups promote as a key to understanding and tolerance.
"If tropical forests deserve our protection, humankind ... deserves it no less,'' the 81-year-old pontiff said, calling for "an ecology of the human being''.
It is not "outmoded metaphysics'' to urge respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman'', he told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's sumptuous Clementine Hall.
David Gibson at dotCommonweal says:
The Vatican (among others) is a great champion of human rights, and rights like religious freedom, the right to life, etc. But it often seems that when it comes to rights they don’t like, natural law is suddenly invoked. What is the relationship between these two? Are human rights “limited” to those that conform to faith’s view of natural law? Or is natural law like a natural revelation, a natural theology understandable (supposedly) to all that is the true human rights “charter”?