An Italian bishop who compared moves to give gay couples some rights to incest and child abuse is under police guard after his cathedral was attacked by vandals.

Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco is being accompanied by an escort after the slogan “Bagnasco shame” was painted on the entrance to the cathedral of St. Lawrence in Genoa.

Monsignor Bagnasco was appointed head of the Bishops Conference last month and is in charge of the Roman Catholic church campaign to block a new law that would allow unmarried couples, gay and straight, some legal protection.

The Archbishop’s comments have resulted in some of the heaviest criticism of the church in an ongoing row over the place of religion in the Italian state.

La Repubblica newspaper reported his comments at a meeting of Roman Catholic church employees:

“Why say no to forms of legally recognised co-habitation which create alternatives to the family? Why say no to incest?

“Why say no to the paedophile party?”

Sergio Lo Guidice, the president of gay rights group Arcigay, has condemned the act of vandalism, but has expressed his support for “the victims of the archbishop’s most offensive words on paedophilia and homosexual civil unions” according to Catholic World News.

Bagnasco has been under police guard since yesterday, due to fears for his personal safety resulting from the appearance of the graffiti.

A similar attack on a car owned by Tele Liguria Sud, a television station run by the diocese in La Spezia also took place in the past week.

The words “No Vatican” were spray-painted onto the vehicle.