The Vatican on Saturday responded to big wins for gay marriage advocates in the United States and Europe.

In recent days, voters in four U.S. states – Maryland, Maine, Washington state and Minnesota – gave marriage equality advocates their first wins at the ballot box, ending a previous 31-state winning streak for opponents. Spain's Constitutional Court ratified the nation's 2005 law legalizing such unions. And in France, the government approved a proposed gay nuptials bill, sending it to lawmakers for debate.

The Roman Catholic Church has vociferously defended limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

In an article in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper, historian Lucetta Scaraffia claimed that the church is the only global institution capable of fighting the forces that threaten to “break up … human society.”

By opposing such social issues, abortion included, the church “made it clear for everyone that this is not about progress” but about the loss of religious freedom.

A Vatican spokesman went further in a Vatican Radio editorial, taunting marriage equality proponents to push for the legal recognition of plural relationships.

(Source: The AP.)