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Gays and transsexuals can't enter heaven: cardinal

ROME (Reuters) - A Roman Catholic Cardinal told homosexuals and transsexuals on Wednesday they would never get into heaven, prompting a rebuke from the Vatican itself.

“Transsexuals and homosexuals will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, it’s not me who says it but St. Paul,” said Mexican Cardinal Javier Barragan, a former Vatican official who recently retired, referring to one of St. Paul’s epistles.

Asked if people were born homosexual Barragan, whose comments were posted on a conservative Catholic website called www.pontifex.roma, was quoted as saying:

“One is not born homosexual but they become that way. This is for various reasons: education, for not having developed their identity during their adolescence, maybe they are not guilty but by going against the dignity of the body they certainly will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.”

“Everything that goes against nature and against the dignity of the body offends God,” he added.

Aurelio Mancuso, president of Italy’s main gay rights group, Arcigay, said Barragan’s remarks were part of the Church’s “ridiculous theories about sexuality and the dignity of the person.”

The Vatican distanced itself from the comments in a statement that was highly unusual because it indirectly criticized a top Church official.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the website should not be considered an authority on Catholic thinking “on complex and delicate issues such as homosexuality.”

Lombardi quoted from the official Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, which says homosexual acts are a “disorder” but acknowledges that many people have “innate homosexual tendencies” and should be treated with respect and not be subject to discrimination.

The Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are sinful but homosexuality in itself is not.

Editing by Tim Pearce