Pope Benedict XVI on Friday called on Roman Catholics in France to “defend marriage.”

The Socialist government of President Francois Hollande is preparing to introduce legislation which would legalize gay marriage in the nation. Socialists recently won control of parliament, making passage of the legislation highly likely.

Benedict said he believes such unions harm society.

“The family is threatened by a conception of human nature that is proven to be defective,” Benedict told a group of French bishops visiting Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence located on the outskirts of Rome. “Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is harmful to them will in fact be injurious to society itself.”

Benedict has previously opposed marriage equality in other parts of the world, including predominantly Catholic Spain and Argentina.

According to a recent poll, 65 percent of French people support giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The government is expected to unveil its bill to the French cabinet on October 31.