Episcopal bishops critical of Vatican's antigay stance

BY Advocate.com Editors

December 11 2002 12:00 AM ET

Episcopal bishops in Massachusetts warn that antigay comments from the Vatican could lead to hate crimes in the United States.

"We don't believe any person should make a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia, the way the Catholic Church has, because it increases hatred and violence," Bishop Roy F. Cederholm Jr. said Monday. As the Vatican drafts new guidelines for accepting candidates for the priesthood, the Roman Catholic church is expected to address whether gays should be barred from becoming priests.

In a recent letter reproduced in a church publication, Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, a recently retired top Vatican official, said the ordination of gays would be imprudent and risky. His position reflects what appears to be the Vatican's emerging public stance on the issue.

In interviews Monday with The Boston Globe, Cederholm and the Episcopal bishop of Massachusetts, M. Thomas Shaw, said they felt compelled to speak out despite their reservations about wading into another denomination's controversy.

"I'm really concerned about hate crimes and homophobia that comes from supposedly responsible people making statements like this," Shaw said.

Shaw, the top Episcopal bishop in the state and head of the nation's largest Episcopal diocese, has been ordaining openly gay men and women since his election as bishop in 1994. "Some of the finest priests we have are gay and lesbian priests that are in thriving parishes," Shaw said.

Of the Catholic Church's attitude toward gays, Cederholm said, "This particular issue affects people outside their church, and therefore we feel that we have a place to add our voice."

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