Pope Benedict XVI urged bishops to uphold the Catholic tradition of marriage today during a 150,000-strong mass in Lourdes, the French town where apparitions of Madonna reportedly appeared in 1858, AFP reports. Benedict pledged not to allow divorced Catholics into the church and told bishops to "uphold firmly, even at the cost of opposing prevailing trends."
"Initiatives aimed at blessing irregular unions cannot be admitted," he added. The visit was Benedict's first to France since becoming Pope 3 years ago, and comes at a time when French Catholicism is waning. It remains the nation's most popular religion, but a recent poll showed that only 10% of French Catholics go to mass regularly.