British pop superstar Elton John stirred controversy in a magazine interview Friday when he claimed that Jesus Christ was "gay."
"I think Jesus was a compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems," John said in an interview posted on the website of US celebrity news magazine Parade.
"On the cross, he forgave the people who crucified him. Jesus wanted us to be loving and forgiving. I don't know what makes people so cruel. Try being a gay woman in the Middle East -- you're as good as dead," said John, who is gay.
The Catholic League, the largest US Catholic rights group, condemned the comments.
"Jesus was certainly compassionate, but to say he was 'super-intelligent' is to compare the son of God to a successful game-show contestant," league president Bill Donohue said in a statement.
"More seriously, to call Jesus a homosexual is to label him a sexual deviant. But what else would we expect from a man who previously said, 'From my point of view, I would ban religion completely'?"