Pope Benedict XVI clicks on a tablet to send his first twitter message on Wednesday at the Paul VI hall at the Vatican.(Photo: Vincenzo Pinto, AFP/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- Gay marriage denies God and devalues human dignity, Pope Benedict XVI said Friday in his annual "state of the Church address at the Vatican.
Speaking to the Curia, the bureaucrats who run the global church of 1.2 billion Catholics, the pope said opposition to gay marriage is a way of defending humanity: "Whoever defends God is defending man."
Benedict also quoted the chief rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, who has written that promoting a right to same-sex marriage is an "attack" on the traditional family made up of a father, mother and children.
The address echoed his recently released annual peace message, which said gay marriage, abortion and euthanasia are threats to world peace.
The pope maximized his global audience by posting five more tweets on his highly popular personal Twitter account this week and writing an opinion piece for the British paper, the Financial Times.
Today, after his address to the curia, the Vatican launched three more tweets on his @pontifex Twitter account. This adds to two tweets on Wednesday and his answers to public questions last week. Benedict now has more than 2 million global followers.
According to Twitter, Benedicts initial tweet on Dec. 12, a blessing to his new "dear friends," hit a higher rate of retweets -- over 1.2 million in eight languages -- than mini-missives by Justin Bieber. That day he also answered questions submitted with #askpontifex from three followers including a busy mother in the USA, Linda Binggeli, of Lees Summit, Mo., who asked about finding time for prayer.
Benedict's tweets on Friday came from his curia address and the writing of St. Augustine:
- At the end of the year, we pray that the Church, despite her shortcomings, may be increasingly recognizable as Christ's dwelling place
- We do not possess the truth, the truth possesses us. Christ, who is the truth, takes us by the hand.
- When you deny God, you deny human dignity. Whoever defends God is defending the human person.
Wednesday's tweets were drawn from his general audience and dealt with the themes of the Christmas season.
- Mary is filled with joy on learning that she is to be the mother of Jesus, God's Son made man. True joy comes from union with God
- Everyone's life of faith has times of light, but also times of darkness. If you want to walk in the light, let the word of God be your guide
For Thursday's Financial Times, the pope wrote that Christians should engage in the world with the Gospel as their guide and inspiration. "But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology."
The birth of the Christ child, he says, brought a challenge to earthly powers, from "a new king, who relies not on the force of arms, but on the power of love..." and brought hope to the poor and the vulnerable "in a precarious world."