Pope Benedict XVI has delivered an end-of-year address to senior Vatican staff. The following are key extracts from his comments.
On 'human ecology'
"We need something like human ecology, meant in the right way. The Church speaks of human nature as 'man' or 'woman' and asks that this order is respected.
"This is not out-of-date metaphysics. It comes from the faith in the Creator and from listening to the language of creation, despising which would mean self-destruction for humans and therefore a destruction of the work itself of God."
"What is often expressed and signified with the word 'gender' leads to the human auto-emancipation from creation and from the Creator. The human being wants to make himself on his own and to decide always and exclusively by himself about what concerns him.
"But, in so doing, the human being lives against the truth and against the Spirit creator. Rain forests deserve, yes, our protection but the human being - as a creature which contains a message that is not in contradiction with his freedom but is the condition of his freedom - does not deserve it less."
On World Youth Day
"What is the nature of what is happening during World Youth Day? What are the forces which operate? Fashionable analyses tend to consider these days as a variant of modern juvenile culture, as a kind of rock festival modified in an ecclesiastical way, with the Pope as a star.
"First of all it is important to consider the fact that World Youth Days do not consist only of that single week during which they show themselves publicly to the world. There is a long exterior and interior path that leads to them."