VATICAN CITY (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI spoke in support of Christian marriage and traditional family values on Sunday, urging couples to resist modern cultural currents inspired only by a search for happiness and pleasure.
"May Christian couples build a family that is open to life and capable of handling, united, the many, complex challenges of our times," Benedict said as he delivered his traditional Sunday blessing from his window overlooking St. Peter's Square.
"There is a need for families who won't let themselves be swept away by modern cultural currents that are inspired by hedonism and relativism," the pontiff added.
Benedict has made the defense of traditional family values a major goal of his papacy and has often challenged moral relativism, or the view that there are no absolute values.
He said he also hoped that leaders would support the institution of marriage, which he called "of fundamental importance for society."
The Catholic Church opposes divorce and other challenges to church doctrine that have become increasingly common in Europe and elsewhere.
The Vatican also has consistently criticized movements in Italy and other countries that call for legal rights for unmarried couples as an attack against the traditional family.
Britain and several other European nations give such couples the right to form partnerships that entitle them to most of the same tax and pension rights as married couples, and in recent years, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada have legalized same-sex marriage — laws the church firmly opposes.
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