MANILA The head of Manila's Roman Catholic Church has frowned on the participation of gay men in the "Santacruzan" flower festival held across the Philippines every May in honor of the Virgin Mary.
"Gays should not be allowed to participate in Santacruzan since it defeats the true meaning of the celebration," Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales told the church-run Radio Veritas station on Monday.
"I am not angry at gay men. But, I am against what they're actually doing."
In the past, Rosales said, he has refused to say mass to any parish that allows gays in the Santacruzan procession.
Danton Remoto, leader of the pro-gay activist group "Ladlad", protested against the cardinal's statement, saying the participation of gays in the May flower procession was not amined at mocking or desecrating the church.
"In the eyes of God, everyone is equal," Remoto told Reuters. "Some of these gay men have saved a lot of money for their gowns (to be worn in the procession) and they were doing it because they believed in the Virgin Mary. They need understanding, not condemnation."
(Reporting by Manny Mogato; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)