The official newspaper of the Vatican has lambasted the demonstration in Rome on Saturday to demand legal rights for unmarried same sex couples.

L’Osservatore Romano said that children attending the event were the victims of abuse.

50,000 activists, including leftists from Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s coalition, rallied in a Roman piazza in support of a bill that would offer greater legal protection to unmarried couples.

The paper called the children at the demonstration, “the fruit of previous relations or of in-vitro fertilization.”

It went on to assert that by attending the rally with their parents, the children were being “abused in order to create the image of a family.”

L’Osservatore Romano also complained that some demonstrators insulted Catholics and the church.

Some of those on the protest march wore bishop’s mitres with slogans that attacked the Vatican.

The paper accused protestors of “demanding recognition from others, but do not demonstrate respect for others themselves.”

Catholics in Prime Minister Prodi’s coalition government as well as opposition parties have promised to block the proposed gay rights legislation.

L’Osservatore Romano is published daily in Italian and weekly in several other languages.

Its website features a page entitled “Most Beautiful Photos of The Pope.”