The Pope has used a visit to Portugal to repeat his opposition to gay marriage, just days before the practice is set to be legalised in the country.
He was speaking to Catholic charity and social workers in the pilgrim destination of Fatima.
The Portuguese President is expected to sign same-sex marriage into law next week, three years after the legalisation of abortion following a referendum.
But Benedict XVI told his audience he appreciated their efforts that, as he put it:
“Aim to protect the essential and primary values of life, beginning at conception, and of the family based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman and help to respond to some of today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.”
The Pope’s intervention in the gay marriage debate may put more pressure on President Cavaco Silva to veto the bill that the minority socialist government recently passed through parliament.
The Portuguese Health Minister responded by saying that the comments changed little as the Church’s position on the matter was already well-documented.
While more than 90 percent of the population is officially Catholic, observers say Portuguese society is becoming ever more secular.