A US anti-gay radio host has said that Pope Francis was “naive” to doubt gay people, or “Satan’s earthly minions’” intentions to destroy the Catholic Church by promoting homosexuality.

Peter LaBarbera, the president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, took umbrage at an apparent softening of stance by Pope Francis, as he made comments on Thursday around the Catholic Church’s treatment of gay issues.

On Thursday, the Pope said the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception – and that he was choosing to avoid discussing those subjects.

On LaBarbera’s group’s website, he said gay people had entered the Catholic Church and molested young boys as part of a “sinister plot”, to weaken the church’s moral authority.

“Homosexuals and liberal allies who advocate for acceptance of homosexuality turn around and say Church is now discredited because it harbored ‘pedophiles,’” LaBarbera wrote. “Meanwhile, Church officials resist full disclosure of the scandal, thus perpetuating it.”

LaBarbera said that the sexual abuse was committed by gay priests, not by paedophiles.

Saying almost exactly the same, appearing on CNN’s New Day programme, the Catholic League’s president Bill Donohue insisted that: “When men have sex with adolescent men it’s called homosexuality. It is not paedophilia.”

LaBarbera went on to say that “cunning” gay rights activists had used the pope’s words to construe a meaning that was not there, and that Francis actually condemns homosexualitys till.

“Unfortunately the words Pope Francis has chosen [eg, warning against 'obsessing' about Church doctrines, such as Vatican teachings on homosexuality] and stating regarding ‘gay’ priests ['Who am I to judge them?'] are already being manipulated, distorted and exploited by LGBT activists and their allies,” he wrote.