The Bishop of Sion says he regrets the ‘misunderstanding’ over his recent comments about possible ‘cures’ for homosexuality which have sparked a local storm.
“I never wanted to hurt or stigmatise anyone,” Bishop Jean-Marie Lovey told Le Matin newspaper on Thursday.
His statement follows an interview published two days earlier in the French language daily La Nouvelliste, in which he claimed that homosexuality can be cured.
In that article Lovey stated that being gay was a weakness of human nature. According to him, certain people are “like that in the beginning but that is not to say that it cannot be changed”. “Psychological cures exist,” he said. “Homosexuality can be cured.”
He also added that one could count on prayers to overcome being gay. “It has already healed the sick on repeated occasions,” he said.
In Thursday’s Le Matin interview the bishop said he was very surprised by the heated reactions to his comments, both on social media and by gay and lesbian organisations, which he said were ‘misunderstood’.
“I don’t consider homosexuality to be an illnesss. But I do know people whose homosexual tendencies were fleeting, without claiming this is the case for everyone. I used the term ‘cure’ for a person who was homosexual and who talks in these terms about his personal experience,” said Lovey.
In the earlier interview Lovey had indicated that being gay and Catholic was not incompatible.
“Many people think they are not compatible but this presents an image of a God that is elitist,” he said. “This is false.”
While he did not approve of homosexual acts, Lovey felt that everyone should be supported so that they can discover God’s plan for them. He said that being gay did not diminish a person’s humanity or dignity.
The Lesbian Organisations of Switzerland (LOS) said that they were deeply shocked and revolted by Lovey’s statements.
“Such remarks incite rejection, exclusion and cause profound grief to young people,” stated an LOS communique.
LOS also called on the Bishop to “correct his slipup” ahead of the Sion gay pride festival scheduled on June 13.