The Pope used his Christmas address today to launch yet another attack on gay marriage.

The pontiff, speaking to delegates in Rome, described legal recognition for unmarried couples and gay partners as “dismal.”

Referring to gay marriage, Pope Benedict said: “This tacitly accredits those dismal theories that strip all relevance from the masculinity and femininity of the human being as though it were a purely biological issue.”

He warned that gay unions will destroy the identity of mankind, Reuters reports.

It comes as Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi aims to fulfil an election promise of providing civil partnership style laws for the gay community as well as heterosexual cohabiting couples.

Earlier this month, Padua city council outraged the Vatican by allowing gay and lesbian couples to register their ‘family.’ The law also applies to unmarried heterosexual couples.