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The debate about same-sex marriage has nothing to do with “gay rights.” Homosexuals are free to do anything they like in the privacy of their bedrooms. The relentless push for gay marriage is not about tolerance, but the legitimization of homosexual behavior - to place it beyond the boundaries of moral disapproval and social ostracism. To accomplish this, the liberal elite seek to marginalize the great traditional religions, especially Christendom’s most powerful defender, the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict understands this, which is why he continues to courageously speak out in defense of human dignity and the sanctity of the family. He is neither politically on the right or the left. He has opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, championed the rights of the unborn and the poor, criticized the inequalities of “jungle capitalism,” and railed against Islamist terror and the degradation of the environment. Above all, however, he has carried the banner of peace and civilized, rational dialogue. He repeatedly - and unequivocally - has said the Christian injunction is to love the sinner but hate the sin.

Now the pope’s enemies deliberately twist his words to demonize him. There is not a hateful bone in his body. To caricature him as a homophobe, never mind as calling for a jihad against gays and lesbians, is not only dishonest but pathetic. They cannot defeat him intellectually or morally and so must resort to ad hominem attacks.

Their efforts will fail. Pope Benedict is the spiritual titan of the West. He is right. His critics are wrong. And, in the end, he will be vindicated.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist at The Washington Times.