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France Condemns Vatican for Blaming Abuse on Gay Priests

The French government has condemned remarks by a top Vatican official linking the pedophile scandal in the Catholic Church to homosexuality.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero Wednesday said the remarks linking the abuse to homosexuality was "unacceptable." He said France is committed to the struggle against discrimination and prejudice linked to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gay rights groups also condemned the remarks by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The top aide to Pope Benedict sparked a furor Monday when he said that homosexuality and not the priestly vow of celibacy is the cause of widespread sex abuse of children by the Catholic clergy.

In statement Wednesday, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that Bertone did not refer to the society at large, but only to the data gathered by Vatican investigators.

Critics have accused Pope Benedict and other church leaders of protecting abusive priests and attempting to cover up the scandal.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.