Belgian cardinal dies, had stirred controversy with remarks on homosexuality

Gustaaf Cardinal Joos of Belgium, who gained notoriety when he called homosexuals “sexual perverts” earlier this year, died yesterday at age 81 at his parish home. The cause of death was not released.

Cardinal Joos, who was appointed to the College of Cardinals last year, fell ill after saying mass yesterday morning at a church in Landskouter, 44 km northwest of Brussels, reported The Associated Press. The cardinal had served in Landskouter since 1970.

The cardinal shared his controversial remarks about homosexuality in a January interview with the news and entertainment weekly P-Magazine.

"I am prepared to sign here in my blood that of all those who say they are lesbian or gay, at most five to 10 percent are effectively lesbian or gay. All the rest are simply sexual perverts," the cardinal had said.

Other leading Catholic leaders, including Godfried Cardinal Danneels, distanced themselves from his comments.

The interview was on the state of Catholicism in Belgium, where the majority of the population is Catholic and where same-sex marriages were legalized last year. Belgium’s same-sex couples may soon be allowed to adopt children.

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