Pope: Sex education attack on religion
Vatican City - Sexual and civic education in schools in Europe is an "attack" on religious freedom, Pope Benedict XVI said on Monday in a traditional annual address to foreign diplomats to the Vatican.
"I cannot remain silent about another attack on the religious freedom of families in certain European countries which mandate obligatory participation in courses of sexual or civic education," the pope told the ambassadors.
He said such courses "convey a neutral concept of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason".
Benedict said this was an example of the "threats" against "the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations".
In a collection of interviews published in November 2010, Benedict said for the first time that he approved of condom use to reduce the risk of disease, leading some to wonder whether his attitude to sex education was changing.
But the Vatican later insisted that the pope's comments referred only to sex workers who were HIV-positive and could not be applied more widely.
In Monday's address, the pope also defended the right of doctors to refuse abortions, saying Christians are sometimes "required" to carry out their jobs "with no reference to their religious and moral convictions".
Benedict said he was "gratified" by a resolution adopted by the Council of Europe last October which reaffirmed the conscience rights of doctors.