News24

Gays blast Rome over abuse link

2010-04-13 22:40

Rome - Italian gay rights supporters lashed out at the Vatican on Tuesday over remarks by its foreign minister shifting blame for the Catholic Church's child sex abuse scandal from celibacy to homosexuality.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, added fresh fuel to the paedophile priests scandal by saying on a visit to Chile on Monday that there was a stronger link between paedophilia and homosexuality than with celibacy.

The head of gay rights group Gaylib, Enrico Oliari, said that it was "worrying that the foreign minister of a state that occupies the heart of the Italian capital would use arguments that are considered passé even in the Third World".

Oliari added sarcastically: "Since they speak the same language, it would be appropriate to transfer the Vatican to Tehran," in a reference to frequent homophobic remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Aurelio Mancuso, former president of a larger gay rights association Arcigay, suggested that Bertone follow up his remarks by "ridding the clergy of homosexuals, starting with the Vatican Curia (administration)".

He added: "The truth is that Bertone is clumsily trying to shift attention to homosexuality and away from the focus on new crimes against children that emerge every day."

Crude analyses

Centre-left Democratic Party MP Anna Paola Concia said she was "indignant" at Bertone's remarks, demanding that the cardinal "immediately retract his violent, inhuman and extremely serious words".

"It's really unpleasant that even today high-ranking members of the Catholic Church should launch into such crude analyses, positing false and damaging theories rejected by the World Health Organisation and that are not shared by most Catholics," she said.

Bertone's controversial statement came as the Vatican stepped up efforts to limit the damage from the paedophile priests scandal, which has rocked the Catholic Church in Ireland, Austria, the US and the pope's native Germany in recent months.

"Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated there exists no relationship between celibacy and paedophilia," Bertone told a Santiago news conference in which he rejected questions on the Church easing its ban on married priests in light of the scandal.

"But many others have demonstrated, and have told me recently, that there is a link between homosexuality and paedophilia. This is true, this is the problem," he said.