Live

Watch CBSN Live

Bishops' aide resigns, linked being gay to devil

BOSTON - The author of a newspaper column suggesting the devil may be responsible for homosexuality has resigned from his job with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic bishops said Friday that Daniel Avila offered to step down and his resignation was accepted Friday. Avila had worked on policy and research for the bishops in Washington.

What "America's Pope" thinks of gay marriage

Avila's column -- titled "Some fundamental questions on same-sex attraction" -- appeared a week ago in The Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston. Avila had written that there's evidence suggesting the devil is responsible for same-sex attraction.

"Scientific evidence of how same-sex attraction most likely may be created provides a credible basis for a spiritual explanation that indicts the devil," it said.

It also said "disruptive imbalances in nature that thwart encoded processes point to supernatural actors who, unlike God, do not have the good of persons at heart." It said that when "natural causes disturb otherwise typical biological development, leading to the personally unchosen beginnings of same-sex attraction, the ultimate responsibility, on a theological level, is and should be imputed to the evil one, not God."

Gay rights groups and others condemned the column.

The Human Rights Campaign said Thursday it's a shame the archdiocese ran a column ignoring the science about sexual orientation.

The gay Catholics group DignityUSA says the column was outrageous and inflicted "tremendous damage on the souls" of gay people.

The 182-year-old newspaper withdrew the column from its website on Wednesday, saying it had failed to recognize the "theological error" before publication. It posted an apology from Avila saying the column didn't represent the position of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, whose stated purpose is to "promote the greater good which the Church offers humankind," and wasn't authorized for publication.

Avila said he deeply apologized for the "hurt and confusion" the column caused.

The Boston archdiocese, the bishops' group and Avila were involved in communications leading to the decision to retract the column, said archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon, who called Avila "passionate about his faith and passionate about his church."

"This one," Donilon said, "clearly just got away from him."