Pope Calls for Holding Line on Divorce

Benedict, in France, urges bishops to ignore trends
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2008 5:27 PM CDT
Tens of thousands of people gathered in a muddy field to join the Pope for a Sunday Mass marking the 150th anniversary of a peasant girl's religious visions in Lourdes.   (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
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(Newser) – 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.