Sydney Archbishop Draws the Line on Homosexual Priests

Young Catholics Greet Pell With a Deafening Applause

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SYDNEY, Australia, MAY 13, 2001 ( Archbishop George Pell said there is no place in the Church for priests who engage in homosexual activity, according to The Australian newspaper.

«If they´re acting out [their sexuality], that´s incompatible with remaining as a priest –­ so if that´s happening they´ve got to choose one way or the other,» he said, on his first Sunday as head of the Sydney Archdiocese.

Archbishop Pell was speaking after addressing a Catholic youth gathering this afternoon at Sydney University where he received a feverish welcome.

The 1,000 young Catholics who gathered in the university´s Great Hall chanted «Pell, Pell» wildly, banged bongo drums and gave the new archbishop a deafening applause as he arrived to speak to them.

Unlike his installation at St Mary´s Cathedral last week ­- which was disrupted by pro-homosexual protesters ­- Archbishop Pell´s first Sunday morning Mass and afternoon appearance at the Carnivale Christi festival went ahead without a demonstrator in sight.

The afternoon event, hosted by the Sydney University Society of St Peter and Life Theatre, marked the end of the Carnivale Christi Catholic youth arts festival. Carnivale Christi featured Byzantine and Coptic art exhibitions, choral and organ recitals, and poetry and drama performances.

Archbishop Pell revealed there were «small pockets» of homosexual priests in his previous post, in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

Asked if the same situation could exist in Sydney ­- which has a much larger and more vocal homosexual community ­- Archbishop Pell said, «Please God, no.»

He told the throng at the university that they were «in with a chance» of converting people who were strongly opposed to Catholicism «because I believe that if they are so irritated by it, it is a … sign that they are terrified that we might have the truth.»

Asked outside if he could apply that theory to Sydney´s homosexual community, he said there were «only a few» protesters last week and «there´s no one this afternoon.»

«I have spoken with many, many people in the gay community and I bear them no ill will and I wish them God´s peace,» Archbishop Pell said.

On Thursday, the archbishop began public life in Sydney with a commitment to strengthening Church life in the city and «staging a bit of a fight-back» to prevent the views of the Catholic minority being submerged, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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