Pope and gay issues - Responsible words vital

To have a leading Irish politician criticising the Pope is probably a sign of the times.

Eamon Gilmore, the leader of the Labour Party, is actually the most popular party leader in the country in recent polls.

He came out strongly yesterday in criticism of Pope Benedict XVI for "giving comfort" to thugs carrying out violent homophobic assaults. Mr Gilmore suggested that the Pope and others should temper their language in dealing with the gay issue because some of the pontiff’s remarks sparked a spate of anti-gay rhetoric.

In 2008 the Pope stated that homosexuality was as great a threat to mankind as the destruction of the rain forests. The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network points out that research in Ireland indicates that over 80% of gay people suffer from homophobic verbal abuse, and many suffer from physical violence.

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. All the churches have every right to express their views on matters such as homosexuality, but it is important that this should be done in a responsible way that does not incite violence against the gay, or any other, community.