i'IFL VATICAN and Rome's city council were on collision course this week after the council promised to allow a huge international gay rally to go ahead in the Eternal City in July, writes Bruce Johnston, Rome Correspondent.
The Vatican is now putting pressure on Italy's leaders to cancel the event, which it fears will be a platform for antiCatholic protests and will disrupt the Church's Holy Year celebrations.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, asked the Roman authorities at the weekend to "reconsider" the venue in order to preserve Rome's special role as a sacred city.
Italy's Foreign Minister Lambert° Dini admitted this week that the 10-day gathering for one million gays was "a little embarrassing", but did not amount to a violation of the concordat signed by the Vatican and the Italian state in 1929. Rome's mayor Francesco Rutelli said his administration intended to press ahead with its plans to host the gathering.
He said that homosexuals had benefited before from the city's traditional tolerance and should "be able to continue to do so".
IlbAccording to a US press report, AIDS is now spreading among the American priesthood at a rate four times that of the American population. ln a special report, based on a questionnaire sent to 3,000 priests, the Kansas City Star claimed that hundreds of priests had now caught the HIV virus.