Pope Francis on Friday reiterated the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage as Italian lawmakers debate a gay-inclusive civil unions bill.

The Italian Senate is expected next week to vote on a bill that would recognize the unions of gay couples. Opponents claim that civil partnerships will open the door to marriage and adoption for gay couples.

“There can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union,” Pope Francis is quoted by Reuters as telling members of the Vatican court that rules on marriage annulments.

“The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God's dream and that of his church for the salvation of humanity,” he added.

PD Senator Monica Cirinna, the bill's author, told reporters this week that the Vatican's position on marriage has at times “cast a shadow” on the debate.