Chile Senator Fulvio Rossi, the president of the Socialist Party, has implied the Roman Catholic Church had a hand in the recent decision of four senators to withdraw their support for a gay marriage bill.

Rossi, who introduced the bill in August, said he would “not accept intimidation from any church” in criticizing the senator's request to have their names withdrawn from the bill.

He called the departure of Senators Alejandro Navarra (MAS), Isabel Allende (PS), Guido Girardi (PPD) and Ricardo Lagos Weber (PPD) a “bad sign.”

“It seems a very bad sign that my fellow senators who signed onto the bill convinced of the need to promote in Chile a gay marriage law, now are being bullied and pressured to the point that they decided to withdraw their signatures from the parliamentary initiative,” Rossi told Chilean reporters.

The measure seeks to alter the definition of marriage in Chile's civil code from a contract between “a man and a woman” to one between two persons and strike out a reference to procreation. It does not address the issue of adoption, but Rossi has said he hopes to debate the issue at a later date.

The Catholic Church in Latin America has loudly criticized the legalization of gay marriage in Mexico City and Argentina.

Rossi insisted he would not withdraw the bill and that it would continue “its normal processing in the Senate.”