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Gay rights activist hits back at cardinals for blaming homosexuality for clerical abuse

GAY rights activist Frederic Martel hit back at cardinals blaming homosexuality for clerical abuse today, pointing out that studies have long demonstrated that “being gay is not a risk factor” for abuse.

Instead, a “culture of secrecy” prevalent in the Catholic Church had enabled the scandal to be kept under wraps for decades, he said.

On the eve of a high-profile Vatican summit on clerical child abuse and cover-ups, cardinals Raymond Burke of the United States and Walter Brandmuller of Germany attacked Pope Francis for suggesting that sexual assaults were down to the abuse of power by priests, instead claiming that it was the result of “the plague of the homosexual agenda” infecting the Church.

Both cardinals are rightwingers who have previously clashed with the Pope over his criticisms of capitalism as well as comments that they regard as ambiguous on divorce, abortion and homosexuality.

Cardinal Burke is a close ally of US far-right strategist Steve Bannon. As president of the board of advisers to Catholic leadership training school the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, he brought in Mr Bannon to develop coursework “for a training programme for conservative Catholic political activists and leaders,” saying he hoped to work with him to “promote a number of projects that should make a decisive contribution to the defence of what used to be called Christendom.” Mr Bannon is in Rome for the duration of the Vatican conference.

Francis himself told pilgrims ahead of the summit that it was right to denounce “defects” in the Church, but that people who spent their whole lives “accusing” it of wrongdoing were “friends, cousins or relatives” of the Devil, clarifying: “I won’t say children, because the Devil doesn’t have any.”

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