Fernando Sebastián Aguilar
Pamplona archbishop emeritus Fernando Sebastian Aguilar americamagazine.org

Newly chosen Spanish cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar has compared homosexuality to a body defect like high blood pressure that can be "recovered and normalised".

The 84-year-old Sebastian, Archbishop Emeritus of the northern city of Pamplona, told Malaga newspaper Sur that homosexuality "is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation".

"We have a lot of defects in our bodies. I have high blood pressure. Am I going to get angry because they tell me that? It is a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can," said Sebastian.

"Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalised with adequate treatment. It is not an offence, it is esteem. When someone has a defect, the good friend is the one who tells him."

The stunning words by Pope Francis' latest choice stand in contrast with the Pontiff's statements last July, when he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Last week Francis nominated 19 new cardinals, who will be officially appointed on 22 February.

Sebastian's remarks also angered gay rights groups such as Colegas, which called on the archbishop to reject his comment.

"We hope that Fernando Sebastian will correct his words and we note that homosexuality is not a curable disease, but homophobia is" Colegas said, according to AFP.

Pope Francis' remarks were seen as less judgmental than those of his predecessor.

Pope Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Pope Francis, instead, called on gay people to be integrated and not be marginalised by society.

Pope Francis Falklands Argentina
Pope Francis Reuters