RIGA, August 16, 2005 ( - To a packed basilica holding tens of thousands of Catholics onÂMonday, Latvian Cardinal Janis Pujats warned that homosexual militancy is more dangerous than the militancy experienced by the war-torn country in Soviet times.“In Soviet times we faced atheism, which oppressed religion; now we have an era of sexual atheism,” he said.“This form of atheism is even more infectious and dangerous, spiritual values disappear in a swamp of sexual irregularity.”

The homily which was broadcast live on state television and radio reflected on the gay pride parade held in the country for the first time last month. Some 50 gay activists marched in the streets and attended a service in an Anglican church. The small contingent was dwarfed by thousands of protestors.

Cardinal Pujats told his listeners, “Just imagine! Homosexuality is viewed as a value, although it is one of the most serious sins! If gays and lesbians had gone to a church to repent their sins, we would have welcomed it. But this parade was intended to show off their sin. Why did they do it in a church? To show how absurd they are?”

The leading prelate’s frank words received praise from the Russian Ambassador to Latvia Viktor Kalyuzhny. The Russian diplomat also criticized the pride parade saying to the Baltic Times, “Today, the mortality rate in Latvia exceeds the number of births, and now here is an attempt to say in the framework of democratic principles that this [the gay parade] is necessary and democratic. This is not only a matter of the church, but that any normal individual should understand that cheating nature is impossible.”