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Elton John: Pope is 'my hero'

He praised the pontiff's compassion for gay people and his call for the Catholic Church to be more accepting.

Hosting the event in New York, he told the audience that the Catholic leader should be made a saint now.

He said: "Ten years ago one of the biggest obstacles in the fight against AIDS was the Catholic Church. Today we have a pope that speaks out about it.

"He is a compassionate, loving man who wants everybody to be included in the love of God.

"It is formidable what he is trying to do against many, many people in the Church that opposes. He is courageous and he is fearless, and that's what we need in the world today."

The singer was speaking just weeks after Catholic bishops voted against a Vatican document that offered a warm welcome of acceptance to gay people.

A watered-down version also failed to get a majority voted at the recent Synod on the Family.

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