ROME, September 13, 2013 ( – “A population that does not take care of the elderly and of children and the young has no future, because it abuses both its memory and its promise,” Pope Francis said on Friday.

In an address to Italian Catholics gathered this week in Turin for the 47th annual Social Service Week, the pope said that societies survive through caring for young people and handing “faith, love, and fundamental moral values” through the generations.


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The Church, the pope said, offers the world a vision of the family, founded in the Scriptures, that presents “unity in the difference between man and woman, and the fruitfulness of this complementarity, and we recognize it as an asset for all, as the first natural society.”

“The family understood in this way remains the first and principle building block of society and of an economy on a human scale,” he said. He added that the “consequences” of family policy and breakdown “touch upon the various areas of the life of a society and a country.”

The pope’s message comes as the Italian parliament prepares to reconvene and resume discussion of the proposed “anti-homophobia” law that critics have said is meant as a wedge to create “social space” for “gay marriage.”

The Italian Bishops’ Conference has repeatedly warned that the law could result in prosecutions of priests and others who denounce homosexual behavior or who might in the future refuse to support “gay marriage” proposals or participate in civil union ceremonies.