The semi-official newspaper of the Holy See, L’Osservatore Romano, is seeking to downplay this week’s equal marriage victories in the US and Europe.

According to an article in the paper by historian Lucetta Scaraffia, the Catholic Church has emerged in recent years as the only institution on the global stage that’s capable of resisting the forces that threaten to “break up … human society.”

The Washington Post reports that Ms Scaraffia believes the church is not “bound to lose”.

The historian believes the church’s fight on moral issues such as marriage rights for gay couples and abortion has drawn support and “admiration” from many non-Catholics.

Yet it hasn’t been a great week for the religious opponents of equal marriage.

As part of Tuesday’s US election, Maine, Maryland and the state of Washington approved equal marriage after voters supported the measure in public ballots. In Minnesota, where same-sex marriage is banned by statute, a referendum to cement this ban into the state’s constitution was also defeated.

Meanwhile, Spain’s highest court threw out an appeal by conservatives to overturn the country’s seven-year-long marriage equality law.

On Wednesday, President Francois Holland unveiled France’s proposed equal marriage bill.

The reform, opposed by more than 1,000 mayors and France’s Catholic Church, will be debated by parliament in January 2013.