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Vatican stops German service for gays

By Staff
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BERLIN, Apr 20 (Reuters) The Vatican has moved to ban a service for homosexuals at a Catholic church in Bavaria because of its proximity to a prominent gay festival, a church official for the diocese of Augsburg said today.

Josef Heigl, Augsburg vicar general, said the Vatican had stopped the service, which has been taking place around the same time as the Christopher Street Day gay festival since 1999, because it was concerned it might give the impression the Catholic Church endorsed homosexuality.

The Vatican was not immediately available for comment.

Heigl said he personally backed the services, which are held at the St. Moritz church, because they gave comfort to people suffering from AIDS and were also used to remember homosexuals murdered by the Nazis.

''I stand by that because it was only ever about completely normal services and there was never a word spoken that suggested the Catholic Church somehow was endorsing homosexuality or that lifestyle,'' Heigl said.

It's not out of the question that we will continue to holdervices (at other times) with AIDS sufferers and homosexuals,'' he added.

REUTERS PG PM0128

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