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Sunday, 2 July, 2000, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
Bishop's gay conference ban
Gay Pride Parade in London, 2000
Vatican refuses to recognise Gay Pride events
By David Willey in Rome

A French Catholic Bishop has been ordered by the Pope not to take part in a conference being organised in Rome on Monday on religion and homosexuals.

The event is part of World Pride Week, the first international Gay Pride meeting.

Bishop Jacques Gaillot said he had been personally ordered by the Pope not to take part in the meeting in a Rome hotel.

The bishop who was deprived of his diocese in northern France by the Vatican five years ago because of his unorthodox views on social issues said that he was very angry at the ban, but he would obey the Pope as a man of the church.

Bishop Jacques Gaillot
Bishop Gaillot: unorthodox views on social issues
Bishop Gaillot told a news conference that the church must be present where it is needed, and that gays have been subject to innumerable acts of discrimination.

"If the church doesn't free people from oppression, what use is it?" he asked.

A Vatican spokesman said he had no information about the Pope's ban.

Virtual diocese

Bishop Gaillot runs a virtual diocese on the internet, from which he communicates his views on controversial subjects.

His fellow bishops in France have supported his work among immigrants and people who are marginalised by modern society, including gays.

Meanwhile the Vatican launched another broadside against World Pride Week, which was not even mentioned by the Pope in his regular Sunday address in St Peter's Square.

A leading Vatican theologian Father Georges Cottier in an article in Italy's leading Catholic daily reaffirmed the church's condemnation of homosexuality, and said that World Pride Week was not helpful in understanding the problems and human tragedies of homosexuals.

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02 Jul 00 | Europe
Neo-Fascists rain on gay parade
01 Jul 00 | Europe
Gay Pride Week in Rome
26 Jun 00 | World
In pictures: Gay parades
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