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Church says gay priests should come out

Rome authorities irked by 'wild nights' report

23 July, 15:38
Church says gay priests should come out (ANSA) - Rome, July 23 - Catholic Church authorities in Rome on Friday urged gay priests to come out after an Italian newsweekly ran an expose' claiming many of the clerics in the capital led a "double life".

"No one is forcing them to stay priests, only getting the benefits," said a statement from the Vicariate of Rome, led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, one of the Vatican's top figures.

"Coherence demands they should come out into the open," it said. "They never should have become priests".

Friday's article in Panorama, entitled "Wild Nights Of Gay Priests", quoted an unidentified clubber as saying "98% of the priests I know are gay".

The magazine, which is owned by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, claimed to have video evidence of three unidentified priests - two Italians and a Frenchman - having sex with men. The Vicariate's statement stressed that "many priests come to Rome from all over the world to study and have nothing to do with the local Church".

"We don't wish them ill but we can't accept the fact that, because of their behaviour, the honour of all is dragged through the mud".

"We will pursue any unworthy behaviour with rigour". The Vicariate accused Panorama of sensationalism, "trying to defame all priests" and discredit the Church, which has been hit by a mounting wave of paedophile priest scandals.

Voicing the "shock and dismay of the Roman ecclesiastical community", the authorities said the "vast majority" of priests in Rome "represent a model of morality for everyone".

Recalling the work they do for the poor, homeless, sick and poorly educated not only in Italy but abroad, the Vicariate said "they only have one life, not a double one, happy and joyous and coherent with their vocation".

In its teachings, the Catholic Church describes homosexuality as a "disorder" which bars gays from taking part in the Church.

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