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Pope stresses family values as gay marriage gains

VATICAN CITY — The pope pressed his opposition to gay marriage Friday, denouncing what he described as people manipulating their God-given identities to suit their sexual choices — and destroying the very ‘‘essence of the human creature’’ in the process.

Benedict XVI made the comments in his annual Christmas address to the Vatican bureaucracy. He dedicated it this year to promoting traditional family values in the face of campaigns in France, the United States, Britain, and elsewhere to legalize gay marriage.

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‘‘People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,’’ he said. ‘‘They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.’’

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