Following a resounding defeat in the US polls, the Catholic Church has affirmed its opposition to gay marriage.

Having contributed around $1.1 million, the church was one of the largest funders of campaigns against marriage equality in referenda in the states of Minnesota, Maryland, Maine and Washington.

The majority of voters in all four states, however, voted for measures that favoured gay marriage rights. It was the first time same-sex marriage was legalised in any US state through a public vote.

The Vatican responded through its official media by continuing to condemn recognising gay and lesbian relationships as marriage.

“It is clear that, in Western countries, there is a widespread tendency to modify the classic vision of marriage between a man and woman, or rather to try to give it up, erasing its specific and privileged legal recognition compared to other forms of union,” Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s chief spokesman, commented on Vatican Radio, which is broadcast around the world.

He said that “monogamous marriage between a man and woman is an achievement of civilisation” and that the voters’ choices were not for “the common good”.

“…why not contemplate also freely chosen polygamy and, of course, not to discriminate, polyandry [when a woman has more than one husband]?” he asked.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano also criticised the move towards legalising same-sex marriage in the West, describing it in an editorial as “an ideology founded on political correctness which is invading every culture”.

“The Church is the only institution to say that, while persecuting homosexuals is undoubtedly unjust, opposing marriage between people of the same sex is a point of view that must be respected,” said the newspaper.

Pope Benedict XVI has repeatedly attacked same-sex marriage in his speeches and has warned that it could lead to the end of human race.

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