Published: Tuesday, July 4, 2000
Skirting a Vatican order to withdraw from a gay pride seminar on religion and homosexuality, Bishop Jacques Gaillot sat on a couch outside the hotel conference room today and explained where he thinks the Roman Catholic Church has erred.
''The church should not have second-class citizens,'' said Bishop Gaillot, who is from France. ''Homosexuals have the same right to tolerance and dignity as any other group.'' He said he was called on Sunday by his French superiors and told that the pope had asked that he not take part in the seminar, just one event in the seven-day gay pride festival called World Pride Roma 2000.
''I am being loyal and obedient to the pope,'' said Bishop Gaillot, who skipped the seminar but instead discussed the order with the news media. ''But the pope has done me a great service in creating an event out of me.'' The bishop, who was removed from his diocese in Evreux in 1995 for his leftist views, added with a twinkle, ''Nobody would be asking me for interviews had it not been for the pope' s intervention.''
World Pride Roma 2000, which opened on Saturday, was timed to coincide with a Holy Year of the Roman Catholic Church. Vatican opposition elevated the gay event into a tense political battleground, pitting church leaders and many right-wing groups against organizers and defenders of gay rights. Photo
The Vatican's efforts to postpone the festival, and most recently, its effort to silence a bishop whose views do not reflect its own, have focused attention less on gay pride than on the state of tolerance inside the Holy See.
''There is a big difference in how the Vatican and American church leaders approach homosexuality,'' said Francis De Bernardo, a member of New Ways Ministry, a religious association for gay Catholics. ''U.S. bishops want outreach.''
He said he was not surprised by Rome's cold shoulder, citing the Vatican's efforts to silence Jeannine Gramick and Robert Nugent, a nun and priest who were ordered to end their ministry to gay men and lesbians in 1999. [New Ways Ministry] [Symposium] ''But this thing with Bishop Gaillot is disturbing. It shows there is not going to be even the hint of a conversation between the church and the gays gathering here.'' Read more The New York Times
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, May 31, 1999. + Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect [Benedict XVI] + Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., Archbishop emeritus of Vercelli, Secretary