Catholic leaflet welcomed by gay rights campaigners

Gay rights activists have welcomed a new leaflet from the Catholic Church in England and Wales urging greater respect towards homosexuals.

The leaflet advises priests and churchgoers that “baptised persons with a homosexual inclination” deserve to be welcomed and participate in their local faith community.

It points out homophobic jokes can be “cruel and hurtful”, encourages greater awareness of what local help and social services are available and suggests trying “not to assume that everyone is heterosexual”.

The leaflet represents a major break with the past for the Catholic Church, which remains largely tied to Vatican orthodoxy about homosexuality.

Traditionalists are expected to oppose the leaflet but Peter Tatchell of Out!Rage has welcomed it.

“Its sympathetic, understanding message is a big improvement on the stern, uncompromising homophobia of most Vatican pronouncements on homosexuality,” Mr Tatchell said.

“I hope the Catholic Church in England and Wales will encourage the Vatican to adopt this leaflet for use by Catholic dioceses worldwide. Its broader dissemination would help counteract the ignorance and prejudice that exists among many clergy and laity.”