VATICAN CITY - The Vatican recently stepped up its attack on nontraditional sexual mores with a strongly worded document that condemned a wide range of practices, including homosexuality and contraception, as an unprecedented threat to family life.
The tract, which drew from church teaching that has been in place for decades, appeared to sharpen the Vatican's opposition to gay marriage and birth control just as public debate on those two issues has begun to intensify.
Vatican officials are studying moral questions surrounding the church's ban on condoms as a means of preventing the spread of AIDS.
"Never before in history has human procreation, and therefore the family, which is its natural place, been so threatened as in today's culture," the document said, expressing staunch opposition to granting legal recognition to gay couples in any form, including civil unions.
Titled "Family and Human Procreation," the document released June 6 was issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family, headed by Colombian hard-liner Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo.
Trujillo has been a controversial advocate for enforcing church teaching in the public square, supporting calls to deny Communion to Roman Catholic politicians who dissent from church teaching on abortion.