GAY rights campaigners have held a small protest near St Peter’s Square during the Pope’s weekly prayers after he said legalising gay marriage threatened the institution of marriage.
About 15 activists held up colourful paper hearts with slogans written on them including “Gay Marriage”, “Love Has No Barriers”, “Talk About Love”, “Homophobia = Death” and “Marry Peace”.
One of the hearts read “Love Thy Neighbour”.
The protesters were prevented from accessing St Peter’s Square, which was packed with tens of thousands of faithful for the traditional Angelus prayer on the third Sunday of Advent.
The protest came as thousands prepared to take to the streets in France in support of a government proposal to legalise gay marriage that is fiercely opposed by sections of the opposition right, Roman Catholic bishops and other religious leaders.
In a message intended for World Peace Day on January 1, the Pope on Friday reiterated the Catholic Church’s position against gay marriage.
He called for promotion of “the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union.
“Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilise marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society,” he said.