September 1, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the course of drilling Rick Santorum on homosexuality, CNN’s Piers Morgan accused the presidential candidate’s views of “bordering on bigotry” and challenged him as a fellow Catholic with different beliefs on the issue.

“I guess one of the reasons it’s troubling and difficult for people to come out [as gay] is because of the level of bigotry that’s out there against them. I have to say that your views you espoused on this issue are bordering on bigotry, aren’t they?” Morgan asked the candidate.

“I think just because we disagree on public policy, which is what the debate has been about which is marriage, doesn’t mean that it’s bigotry,” replied Santorum.

“Are you suggesting that the Bible and that the Catholic Church is bigoted? Well, if that’s what you believe, fine. I think that—I shouldn’t say ‘fine!’ ... Saying a church is bigoted because it holds that opinion that is Biblically based I think is in itself an act of bigotry,” he said.

“Well, I’m a Catholic, too,” Morgan responded. “I just think, unfortunately, we’re in a different era. We’re in a modern world.”

“Piers, I don’t think the truth changes. I don’t think right and wrong change based on different eras of time,” Santorum responded.

Later, before an audience of students at Pennsylvania State University, Santorum fumed over the charge of bigotry for upholding Catholic teaching on marriage as between a man and a woman.

“I had Piers Morgan call me a bigot, because I believe what the Catholic Church teaches with respect to homosexuality. I’m a ‘bigot’!” Santorum exclaimed.

“And, of course, we don’t elect bigots to office, we don’t give them professional licenses, we don’t give them preferential tax treatment. If you’re a preacher and you preach bigoted things, you think you’re going to be allowed to have a 501(c)3 as a church? Of course not.”

The exchange was picked up on the Catholic blogosphere, where commentators criticized Morgan for targeting the basic tenets of the Catholic Catechism.

“It was the equivalent of a frustrated child resorting to name calling,” Deacon Keith Fournier wrote on Catholic Online.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League decried what he called “obvious Catholic-baiting.”

“If this is what we’ve come down to—cultural elites branding every person who holds to the traditional understanding of marriage as a bigot—then it’s a clear indication that the elites are incapable of rational discourse,” said Donohue.