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Gay advocates protest at Vatican
    Carrying teddy bears, toys and a message for Pope John Paul II, a small band of gay Christians from the US gathered at the edge of St Peter's Square on Wednesday to protest Vatican teachings on homosexuality.
    The group, numbering 18, staged a brief, mostly silent demonstration outside the Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica. Arriving about two hours after the Holy Father finished his weekly public audience with tens of thousands of pilgrims, they were barely noticed by the crowd.
    Wearing windcheaters with the slogan: "God's Gay Children Bring Gifts ... Bless Them," they softly sang "We Shall Overcome," and hoped a Vatican priest might come out and bless them. None did.
    The Pope has repeatedly denounced attempts to legalise same-sex marriages or adoption by gays. Last year, he bitterly denounced a gay pride festival in Rome as an "insult" to Christians and said homosexual acts were "contrary to natural law."