Gay and Christian groups have slammed Pope Benedict XVI's remarks that defending the “natural order” of man and woman is as important as protecting the rainforests, the Times of London reports. British Catholic leaders have countered that the pontiff didn’t explicitly mention homosexuality in his annual Christmas speech, but critics say the church—which has taken a harder line against gays recently—is fanning the flames of homophobia.
“I am extremely disappointed. This is not much of a Christmas message," one British vicar said. "This will not change anyone’s mind. I thought the Christmas angels said, ‘Fear not’. Instead, the Pope is spreading fear that gay people somehow threaten the planet. And that’s just absurd. As always, this sort of religious homophobia will be an alibi for all those who would do gay people harm.”