updated 11/8/2006 6:10:30 PM ET 2006-11-08T23:10:30

The Vatican asked Israel Wednesday to ban a gay pride parade this week in Jerusalem, saying the march in the city considered holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians would offend the faithful.

Thousands of gay activists are expected to march in Jerusalem on Friday.

“The Holy See has reiterated on many occasions that the right to freedom of expression ... is subject to just limits, in particular when the exercise of this right would offend the religious sentiments of believers,” the Vatican said.

“It is clear that the gay parade scheduled to take place in Jerusalem will prove offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians, given the sacred character of the city of Jerusalem,” it said.

The Vatican said it had asked its envoy to Israel to convey its regret over the planned parade to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

The Vatican also expressed hope the decision might be “reconsidered, as a mark of respect for the religious sentiments of all those who venerate the Holy City.”

Vatican teaching holds that homosexuals are “intrinsically disordered.” The church, however, says gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity. In 2000, the Vatican bitterly denounced a gay pride festival in Rome as an “insult” to Christians.

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