Vatican backs off homophobic statement

Wed. April 14, 2010 12:00 AM by News Staff

The Vatican is trying to distance itself from comments made by a prelate that linked homosexuality and pedophilia.

"Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone -- Pope Benedict's close confidante -- on Monday. "This pathology is one that touches all categories of people, and priests to a lesser degree in percentage terms. The behavior of the priests in this case, the negative behavior, is very serious, is scandalous."

But on Wednesday, the Vatican released a statement saying "General assertions of a specifically psychological or medical nature" should not come from Church officials. A Vatican spokesperson said they were trying to "clarify" Bertone's comments.

"This is a scientific absurdity. The World Health Organization calls homosexuality a variation of human behavior. It is pedophilia that is a pathology, a crime, not homosexuality," Italian gay rights activist Franco Grillini told Reuters. "Because they have their own problems with the abuse crisis and don't know how to handle it, they are trying to pass their 'cross' from their shoulders on to ours."

The French Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Bertone's comments were "an unfortunate linkage that we condemn."

The Washington Post reported that a front-page editorial in Rome's Repubblica newspaper titled "The Confusion in the Church" said this end up hurting the church more than it would hurt gays.

Bertone is the Vatican secretary of state and is sometimes called the "deputy Pope."