Pope Benedict XVI is getting into the festive spirit by taking his opposition to gay relationships to new heights.

The Catholic leader made his latest homophobic attack on Friday in his annual Christmas speech to the Vatican – one of his most important speeches of the year and one in which he dedicated to opposing equal marriage.

The Pope said: “People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being,” he added. “They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.”

“The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned,” he said.

He also quoted the chief rabbi of France in saying the global campaign for marriage equality was an “attack” on the traditional family made up of a father, mother and children.

On Monday, the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper described the efforts of equality campaigners as an attempt at building a communist-like “utopia”.

Last Friday, in a message for World Day of Peace 2013, the Pope described same-sex marriage as a threat to justice and peace, adding that it will spark harm for society.

In January, the Pope warned that introducing equal marriage would risk the future of humanity itself.