Family Day draws one million supporters of family,traditional marriage.

Vatican City,May.15,2007(CINS/EWTN:Joan's Rome) - Saturday in Rome, a crowd estimated at one million people gathered at St. John Lateran Basilica to defend the family and traditional marriage based on a union between a man and a woman. Organized by family and Christian associations, Italy’s first "Family Day," which used the English title, drew numbers well beyond even the organizers' best hopes. Special trains and more than 3,000 busses brought people from all over Italy – not only Catholics but members of other religions, including Jews and Muslims.

Family and marriage were priority issues for John Paul II and the rally featured a video of the late Pope defending the family and the sanctity of traditional marriage. The gathering, whose motto was "The Family, Hope of the World," intended to defend the family in the face of an Italian government proposal that would give legal recognition to same-sex couples, though it would not legalize so-called "marriages" between them. The bill requires approval from the Italian parliament to whom the one million strong hoped to send a clear message Saturday.

In recent months the Vatican and the Italian Bishops' Conference have spoken out strongly against the legislation which was crafted by the center-left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The DICO bill has met with strong opposition from conservatives and center-left Catholics in parliament. Pope Benedict has spoken out frequently in defense of the family and, in fact, sent a strong message from Brazil Friday evening, just hours before "Family Day" was scheduled to start in Rome, pointing to the sexual immorality promoted by popular culture and saying it destroys the sanctity of marriage. In a speech to Latin America's bishops, he also condemned what he called the "plague" of extramarital unions. 

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