(AFP) – Jul 23, 2010
ROME — An Italian magazine cover story on gay priests with pictures of them cavorting in Rome nightclubs prompted a "troubled" Roman Catholic diocese to say Friday they do not belong in the Church.
"Those who live a 'double life', who do not understand what it is to be a Catholic priest, should not become priests," the diocese said in a statement after the Panorama weekly's expose hit the newsstands.
It was "saddened and troubled" by the story, it said.
The cover of the magazine shows a man's hands with pink-painted fingernails, draped with a rosary and folded in front of a priest's black robe.
The expose titled "Gay Priests' Nights on the Town" offers details on their "vices and perversions" obtained over a month of undercover reporting with hidden cameras.
The Rome diocese pledged to pursue "with rigour any behaviour that is unworthy of the priestly life".
It added: "No one obliges them to remain priests and keep enjoying the advantages.
"Consistency demands that they reveal themselves. We don't wish them any harm, but we cannot accept that the honour of all the others is dragged through the mud because of their behaviour."
Homosexuality is a highly sensitive issue for the Roman Catholic Church, which holds that any sexual activity outside marriage is sinful.
Pope Benedict XVI is particularly opposed to gay marriage, which he said was an "insidious and dangerous threat to the common good" during a May visit to Portugal as the country was about to legalise same-sex unions.
The Panorama article also comes as the Church reels from runaway paedophilia scandals involving Catholic clergy amid calls for a rethinking of the celibacy rule for priests.
The Vatican number two, Cardinal Tercisio Bertone, caused a furore in April by suggesting that homosexuality, and not celibacy, was at the root of the paedophilia scourge.
Panorama is owned by the Mondadori publishing group controlled by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
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