Melbourne's Archbishop George Pell has reasserted his comments that the gay lifestyle poses a grave health risk. However he has conceded that there is a higher annual death toll from illnesses related to smoking than those arising from homosexuality.
    Dr Pell made the original remark on Sunday after he refused holy communion to rainbow-sashed gay parishioners.
    His comment that homosexuality is a "greater health risk than smoking" was widely interpreted to mean that the gay lifestyle claims more victims than smoking. However, in his clarification, he indicated that a gay smoker is more likely to die of AIDS than smoking.
    He maintained yesterday that the security of "safe sex" practices was often "significantly overstated".
    Dr Pell added that the Catholic church is strongly opposed to homophobia. It was opposed to homophobic assaults, but homosexual activity was "tied up with a great deal of promiscuity and there's no happiness for anybody in the long term in that direction".

12:15pm 25/5/99 / The Australian


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