VATICAN CITY — Homosexuals and transsexuals "will never enter the kingdom of heaven", a leading Roman Catholic cardinal said on Wednesday.
Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan said that while the Church regarded homosexuality as an "insult to God", this did not justify discrimination against gay and transsexual people.
"Transsexuals and homosexuals will never enter the kingdom of heaven and it is not me who says this, but Saint Paul," the cardinal said, in comments reported by the Ansa news agency.
"People are not born homosexual, they become homosexual, for different reasons: education issues or because they did not develop their own identity during adolescence. It may not be their fault, but acting against nature and the dignity of the human body is an insult to God," he said.
Barragan, the retired head of the Vatican's Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, quoted a passage from Paul's epistle to the Romans which speaks of "men committing indecent acts with other men".
"Homosexuality is therefore a sin, but this does not justify any form of discrimination. God alone has the right to judge," the cardinal said.
"We on earth cannot condemn, and as human beings we all have the same rights."
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