Pope Francis says the Catholic Church should apologize for its behavior toward gays—the first time any pope has said the church is guilty of discrimination against the LGBT community.
While returning to Rome from Armenia on Sunday night (June 26th), the pope was asked by a reporter if he agreed with a comment by a German cardinal that the Catholic church should apologize for its marginalization of gays.
“I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says—that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally,” Francis said in a freewheeling, unscripted response. “The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times. When I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!”
The pope echoed an earlier statement in 2013 on withholding judgement of homosexuals, comments that were seen as a breakthrough for the Catholic Church. “The questions is, if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?” he said aboard the plane. (According to a Vatican spokesman, the term “condition” does not refer to a medical condition but to a “person in that situation.”)
He went on to say that the Church should “not only apologize … to a gay person it offended, but we must apologize to the poor, to women who have been exploited, to children forced into labor, apologize for having blessed so many weapons,” possibly a reference to the Catholic Church’s support of war in the past, and to families going through divorce.
Pope Francis has been seen as the most welcoming pope ever to the gay community. Still, he has not changed the Church’s stance that homosexual acts are a sin.
Before Italy passed legislation legalizing same-sex civil unions, the pope reminded lawmakers of the Church’s view. “There can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union,” he said at the time.