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Pope Benedict, shown at the Vatican in April, lamented Friday that Catholic politicians in Canada have yielded to "ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls." ((Andrew Medichini/Associated Press))

Pope Benedictlashed out Friday at Canada for allowing same-sex marriage and abortion, saying the policiesresulted from Catholic politicians ignoring the values of their religion.

"In the name of tolerance, your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse," the Pope told a group of bishops from Ontario. "In the name of freedom of choice, it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children."

Such laws,Benedictsaid, are the result of "the exclusion of God from the public sphere."

He lamented that Catholic politicians had yielded to "ephemeral social trends and the spurious demands of opinion polls."

Benedict has made the defence of traditional family values a major goal of his papacy, speaking out often on the issue. During a trip to Spain in July, he challenged that country's socialist government for instituting liberal reforms such as gay marriage and fast-track divorce.

Robert Mickens, the Rome correspondent for the Catholic newspaper The Tablet,told CBC News thatthe tone of the Pope'sspeech was a lot sharper than what he has said over the last several months.

Mickenssaid he suspected the speech was written for the Pope by Vatican officials because it didn't bear his style or syntax.

Parliament passed legislation in June 2005 thatmade Canada the fourth country in the world to recognize gay marriage.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will revisit the issue and that members of Parliament will be asked this fall whetherthey wish to reopen the debate.

Although the motioncould open the door to further discussion by MPson same-sex marriage, it will not directly challenge the existing legislation.

It may, however, ask ifparliamentarians wish to repeal the existing law or curtail it in some way.