A senior Catholic cardinal has criticized gay marriage as undermining the institution of the family.

At a meeting of Italian bishops on Monday, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco appeared to criticize a proposal to allow gay and lesbian couples to enter civil partnerships in Italy.

“It is irresponsible to weaken the family by creating new forms,” Bagnasco told bishops meeting in Assisi in Umbria, according to The Telegraph.

“It only confuses people and has the effect of being a sort of Trojan horse, undermining culturally and socially the core of humanity.”

Children “have a right to a mother and a father,” he added, without an explanation as to how gay unions hurt children.

(Related: Pope Francis demotes cardinal opposed to gay rights.)

Bagnasco, the head of the Italian Bishops Conference and archbishop of Genoa, made his remarks after several mayors, including Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino, began recognizing the foreign marriages of gay couples and lawmakers introduced a proposal to legalize civil partnerships in Italy.

(Related: Silvio Berlusconi backs civil unions for gay couples.)