demonstrators protesting against the Roman Catholic Church's stance on homosexual marriage tried to enter St Peter's Square yesterday as the Pope gave his weekly address to pilgrims.

The protesters – who were kept out of the square by police – were upset about a speech by Pope Benedict on Friday in which he appeared to include efforts to legalise gay marriage among the threats to world peace.

"We find intolerable the assertion that gay unions are dangerous to the world. Weapons are much more dangerous," said protest organiser Gianfranco Mascia.

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The group held up signs reading "Gay unions don't harm peace, weapons do" in various languages.