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Gay rights activists have criticised a Vatican official who sought to link homosexuality to paedophilia when commenting on child sex abuse scandals.

The UK’s Stonewall group said it was astonishing gay people should still be dealing with “such an offensive myth”.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone had said homosexuality, not celibacy, lay behind the child sex abuse scandals.

The cardinal, the Vatican’s foreign minister, was speaking in Chile, where his comments were also condemned.

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