Pope Francis on Monday morning, June 27, said that the Catholic Church should not discriminate against gay people and ask for their forgiveness.
According to a CNN report, the Pontiff’s reply was meant for a question on a German Cardinal who pointed out that the Catholic Church has been “very negative” against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Another question for him was whether Catholics harbor hatred for gay people after the tragic shooting of 49 people at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
Pope Francis said, “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.”
“I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” the Pontiff added, “but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”
The Pope explained that “the Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times.” He went on to explain that the apology must come from its members who have been vocal in their sentiments against the LGBT community.
“When I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!” he said.
Pope Francis explained that “one can condemn, but not for theological reasons, but for reasons of political behavior” as “certain manifestations are a bit too offensive for others.”
“But these are things that have nothing to do with the problem. The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well,” he pointed out.
Rev. James Martin, editor for America magazine, called the Pope’s apology “a groundbreaking moment.”
“While St. John Paul II apologized to several groups in 2000 — the Jewish people, indigenous peoples, immigrants and women, among them — no pope has ever come close to apologizing to the LGBT community. And the Pope is correct of course. First, because forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. And second, because no group feels more marginalized in the church today than LGBT people,” Martin said.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, called the Pope’s remarks “an immense blessing of healing.”
“No pope has said more welcoming words to LGBT people than when Pope Francis today offered his recommendation that the Church — indeed all Christians — should apologize for the harm religious traditions have caused to LGBT people. The pope’s statement was simple, yet powerful, and it fell from his lips so easily,” he explained. MC