Pope Francis on Sunday expressed support for Catholic bishops in Mexico who support “family and life” amid a growing national debate over marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

“I join willingly the bishops of Mexico in supporting the efforts of the church and civil society in favor of the family and of life, which at this time require special pastoral and cultural attention worldwide,” Francis said during his weekly mass.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City to protest against Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto's proposal to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the nation. Currently, gay couples can only marry in several states and Mexico City, despite a 2015 ruling from Mexico's highest court which found that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

At Saturday's march, organized by the Roman Catholic group National Front for the Family, demonstrators wore white and carried white balloons.

Several Catholic bishops backed the rally, including Bishop Pedro Pablo Elizondo of Cancun, who recently said that he's willing to go to prison to “defend the family,” if necessary.