France condemns Vatican for blaming gay priests

France on Wednesday condemned the Vatican for blaming gay priests for the paedophile scandal, saying it was “unacceptable” to lump the two together.

“This is an unacceptable linkage and we condemn this,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican’s secretary of state, sparked a furore when he said on Monday that homosexuality, not celibacy among the clergy, was at fault for the child abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church.

The comments immediately stoked anger over the Vatican’s handling of allegations that the church hierarchy worked to cover up paedophile crimes committed by their priests.

France, where Catholicism is the number one religion, was the first country to voice criticism over the remarks that have also outraged NGOs and rights activists.

“France is firmly engaged in the struggle against discrimination and prejudice linked to sexual orientation and gender identity,” Valero told reporters.

Speaking at a news conference in Santiago, Chile, on Monday, Bertone said: “Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there exists no relationship between celibacy and paedophilia.”

“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,” said the Vatican’s number two.

In Italy, gay rights activists were furious and accused the cardinal of seeking to divert attention away from the criminal behaviour of priests to homosexuality. — AFP

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