VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church must promote the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman and warn against ideologies opposed to human nature, including philosophies of gender that portray male and female as cultural inventions, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The pope made his remarks during a Jan. 19 audience with workers and leaders of Catholic charities and members of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office in charge of coordinating and promoting charitable giving. The council was meeting Jan. 17-19 for its plenary assembly, focusing on the theme of "Charity, Christian anthropology and new global ethics."
Pope Benedict said all Christians, especially those who work for charitable organizations, "must let themselves be guided by principles of faith through which we take on God's 'point of view' and his plan for us."
The Christian vision of humanity and the world "also provides the correct criteria for evaluating" the best ways to carry out charitable activity today, he said.
While there is "a growing consensus today about the inalienable dignity of the human being" and people's interdependence and responsibilities toward others, there are also many "darks spots" that are obscuring God's plan, he said.
When a person doesn't follow what God intends, he can become "the victim of cultural temptations that end up enslaving him," he said.
Some of those ideologies include the cults of nation, race or social class "that showed themselves to be nothing but idolatry," the pope said, and "unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, which has led to crisis, inequality and poverty."
There's a new form of atheism, he said, that sees people as independent and autonomous with happiness lying solely in realizing one's own self.
This belief, he added, leads people to think they can choose for themselves what human nature is, and promote it under the guise of "alleged progress or presumed rights."
Whatever is "technologically possible becomes morally licit, every experiment is acceptable, any population policy permitted and any manipulation legitimized," he said.
Catholic charities need to be aware of the current mentality and these ethical dilemmas so they can be prophetic and "critically vigilant" when cooperating with international organizations in development and other programs, the pope said.
Bishops and priests "have a duty to warn the Catholic faithful as well as all people of good will and right reason about these deviations," he said.
Charities may have to "refuse funding and collaboration that directly or indirectly promote actions and projects that are in contrast to Christian anthropology," he said.
The Christian vision of humanity "is a great 'yes' to the dignity of the person called to intimate," filial, humble and confident communion with God, he said.
The church also reaffirms "its great 'yes' to the dignity and beauty of marriage as an expression of the faithful and fruitful covenant between man and woman, and its 'no' to philosophies, such as that of gender," he said.