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Elton praises Pope for his compassion

Elton John called Pope Francis "my hero" for his compassion and push to accept gays by the Roman Catholic Church at his annual AIDS benefit.

The star hosted "An Enduring Vision: A Benefit for the Elton John AIDS Foundation" in New York and told the crowd to "make this man a saint now".

"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," said John, to cheers from the attendees at Cipriani's on Wall Street.

Catholic bishops scrapped a proposed welcome to gays earlier this month, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Francis to chart a more relevant approach to ministering to Catholic families.

An earlier draft of the document offered a welcoming tone of acceptance, but that was stripped away after the bishops failed to reach consensus on a watered-down section on ministering to homosexuals.

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


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

John also honoured New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for his plan to end the AIDS epidemic in his state by 2020.

"Good evening to all of you, the queen of England," Cuomo said as the crowd laughed. "I'm from Queens, but I think there's a different interpretation there."

Mike Myers jumped on stage to offer himself for a lunch date, which attracted a bid of $50,000 (€39,000). A Damien Hirst painting sold for $270,000 (€212,000) and a Robert Mapplethorpe for $90,000 (€70,000).

John, who was recovering from a knee operation, performed a rousing set at the end of the night, including Your Song while playing the piano.

Four tickets and backstage access to his New Year's Eve concert in New York sold for $35,000 (€27,000).