Marriage between a man and a woman is part of God's plan, Pope Benedict XVI said in a message released Monday, keeping up his campaign against same-sex unions.
The message, directed to young Roman Catholics, also said those preparing for marriage should live their engagement "in purity of gesture and words," helping them to "practice self-control and to develop your respect for each other."
It was written for Youth Day that the Church will mark in dioceses around the world on April 1, Palm Sunday.
"The love of a man and a woman is at the origin of the human family and the couple formed by a man and a woman has its foundations in God's original plan," Benedict said, reports AP.
The pontiff has long campaigned against unmarried couples and same-sex unions raising political tensions in Italy. Premier Romano Prodi recently said his center-left government is pushing ahead with a divisive proposal to grant unmarried couples legal recognition, drawing the criticism of bishops and even some of his own allies.