Pope Benedict (pictured) has used the beginning of the Christmas period to ramp up his assault on gay marriage, stating that the very foundations of the family were threatened by same-sex partnerships.
In his annual Christmas address to Vatican officials he decried moves to allow same-sex couples to marry and indicated that the Vatican would be willing to forge an alliance with those faiths also opposed to equal marriage rights.
His comments come amid mounting concern in Rome that the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality are falling on deaf ears, with pro- gay marriage movements gaining ground in Britain, the US and France.
During the speech, the Pontiff referred to a recent study by the Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, who said the campaign for granting gays the right to marry and adopt children was an "attack" on the traditional family.
"There is no denying the crisis that threatens it (the family) to its foundations – especially in the Western world," the Pope said.
"When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child – essential elements of the experience of being human are lost." (© Independent News Service)