The Vatican’s ban on gay priests has come under fire from gay Catholic organisations, and seen at least one US priest quit his post.

The Reverend Leonard Walker, from the Queen of Peace church in Arizona, resigned because he no longer felt comfortable wearing the uniform of the priesthood.

It’s like a Jew wearing a Nazi uniform, Walker said. I could no longer stay in that institution with any amount of integrity.

Debbie Weill, executive director of Dignity USA, a gay and lesbian Catholic group, said the Vatican was using gay people as scapegoats.

The Vatican continues to erroneously focus on gay men as the cause of the church sexual abuse crisis while neither addressing the root causes of the crisis nor disciplining in any fashion the bishops who share responsibility for it, she said, Gay.com reported.

Gay political commentator Andrew Sullivan said some of the greatest priests of our times had been gay, including Mychal Judge, chaplain for New York City’s fire fighters, who was killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Judge, a proudly gay man, gave his life for those he served. Under new rules from Pope Benedict XVI issued last week, Father Judge would never have been ordained, Sullivan wrote in Time magazine.

Nor would thousands of other gay priests and bishops and nuns and monks who have served God’s people throughout the ages.

Also this week the Vatican was accused of doing nothing to halt the spread of AIDS in third world countries by Australia’s most renowned scientist, Robert McCredie.

Sydney-born McCredie made the comments during his final speech as president of Britain’s Royal Society in London, the world’s oldest scientific organisation.

The dissemination and adoption of successful prevention strategies is being seriously hindered by arguments over the role that contraception in the form of condoms should play, McCredie said.

The Vatican in particular promotes abstinence outside marriage, and condemns condom use. This disapproval, for all its putative high-mindedness, simply is not an effective strategy for preventing dissemination of HIV, not least because unprotected sex with an infected individual is high risk regardless of whether the act is intended for procreation or recreation.

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