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ROME, June 8, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — This morning Pope Francis told the bishops of Puerto Rico, in Rome on their ad limina visit, that the beauty of marriage between man and woman is threatened by the ideology of gender. He also urged them to emphasize family pastoral ministry in order to counteract serious social problems resulting from the assault on traditional family values.

Noting that “so-called gender ideology” is challenging the complementarity between a man and a woman under the guise of seeking a more just society, the Holy Father said, “Let me to draw your attention to the value and beauty of marriage. The differences between men and women are not of the order of opposition or subordination, but rather communion and generation, always as the image and semblance of God.”

“The sacrament of marriage is a sign of God's love for humanity and Christ's commitment to His Bride, the Church. Take care of this treasure, as one of the most important of the Latin American and Caribbean peoples,” Francis told the Puerto Rican bishops.

The pope enjoined the bishops to focus more on helping families, which are “afflicted by serious social problems: the difficult economic situation, migration, domestic violence, unemployment, drug trafficking and corruption. These are issues that give rise to concern.”

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The key to counteract these problems, Pope Francis said, is for the Puerto Rican bishops to continue “facilitating the sacramental life of the faithful and offering them an adequate continuing formation” which “enables them to fulfill their mission” so that “they may continue along the path of a joyful adherence to the Gospel, deepening the social doctrine of the Church and participating lucidly and serenely in the public debates regarding the society in which they live.”

Pope Francis advised the leaders of the Church in Caribbean countries not to become embroiled in ideologies and political trends.

“Know how to keep a distance from any form of ideological or political trend that may lead you to waste time and your true zeal for the Kingdom of God,” he said.

“Spend your energy not in divisions and conflicts, but rather in building and collaborating. The Church, by virtue of her mission, is not linked to any political system, enabling her always to be a sign and safeguard of the transcendent nature of the human person.”

“The bishop is a model for his priests, and I encourage them always to seek spiritual renewal and to discover anew the joy of ministering to the flock within the great family of the Church,” Francis said.

“Before the upcoming Jubilee of Mercy, I urge first you and then your priests to be faithful servants of God's forgiveness, especially in the sacrament of Reconciliation, which allows God's love to be experienced in the flesh and offers every penitent the source of true inner peace,” the Holy Father concluded.