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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator is calling on Pope Francis to personally intervene with a cardinal in the Dominican Republic who has made derogatory comments about the openly gay man who is the U.S. ambassador to that country.

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said that Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez has launched "hateful" attacks against U.S. ambassador James "Wally" Brewster.

Lopez said earlier this month that Brewster should "focus on housework, since he's the wife to a man." He used an anti-gay slur and accused Brewster of promoting a gay rights agenda on Dominican soil.

Durbin is a Roman Catholic and longtime friend of Brewster. The senator said Lopez's comments are inconsistent with the pope's call for tolerance on homosexuality. Durbin urged Francis to ensure that Lopez treats Brewster with respect.