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Pope nixes speech, so Gaillot gives interviews

NCR Staff

As gag orders go, this has to rank as one of the least effective in recent Vatican history.

French Bishop Jacques Gaillot, reached on his cell phone the afternoon of July 2 by the president of his country’s bishops’ conference, was told that the pope did not want him to speak at a World Pride session on religion and homosexuality July 3. Gaillot honored the edict by staying out of the conference room at the Hotel Cicerone.

But the pope didn’t tell Gaillot to leave the hotel, so the controversial French prelate, removed from his diocese in 1995 in part because of his support for gay rights, spent the day in the lobby making himself available to reporters. His comments have received wide coverage.

“Everyone has a place in the church, especially those on the margins,” Gaillot said. “The role of the church should be to stand with those who are suffering, not with the far-right groups.”

“Homosexuals are knocking at the gates of the church, and they want the church to open the treasures of the gospel to them,” he said. “We must provoke the church to give an answer that comes from beyond itself, that comes from Christ.”

Gaillot also indirectly criticized the pope’s decision to block his speech: “It is not natural that people can’t express themselves,” he said. Gaillot said the pope did not offer a reason for his instruction.

When Gaillot was removed as bishop of Evreux in January 1995, the Vatican cited his stances on contraception, priestly celibacy, the use of condoms in AIDS prevention and civil recognition of homosexual unions.

National Catholic Reporter, July 14, 2000