Pope Francis said laws criminalizing homosexuality are “unjust”, calling homosexuality a sin for Catholic worshippers, but not a crime.
“Being gay is not a crime,” Francis said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.
He noted that Catholic bishops around the world support laws that criminalize homosexuality and discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. He said the leaders “should have a process of repentance”, choosing “tenderness, please, as God has for each of us”.
“We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” Francis said.
The pope said the Catholic Church must work to end laws criminalizing homosexuality.
About 67 countries and jurisdictions around the world criminalize same-sex sexual activity. In the United States, more than a dozen states still have laws against sodomy, even though the Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the statutes are unconstitutional.
Francis’ comments were not a full-on LGBTQ embrace. The Church still calls homosexuality a sin.
‘It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” Francis said during the interview.
“It is also a sin to miss charity with each other,” he added.
What has Pope Francis previously said about LGBTQ rights?
Francis last year called on parents around the world never to judge their children if they are gay.
- During a weekly general audience, he spoke about the biblical figure of Joseph.
- Francis addressed parents “who see that their children have different sexual orientations, how to manage that and guide their children and not hide behind a judgmental attitude.”
- “Never judge a child,” he said
However, the Vatican said in 2021 that the Catholic Church and its priests cannot bless same-sex unions, arguing that God “cannot bless sin”.
- “There is absolutely no reason to regard homosexual unions as comparable or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and the family,” said the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s Orthodox office.
Francis has previously endorsed civil unions and called gay and transgender people children of God.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in an interview for a 2020 documentary. “You can’t kick someone out of a family or make their life miserable. what we need is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
How were the Pope’s comments received?
Francis’ comments this week weren’t a change in the church’s teaching, but they continued to be praised by several LGBTQ groups.
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said Francis’ landmark statement should send a message to world leaders and millions of Catholics around the world: LGBTQ people deserve to live in a world free of violence and condemnation, and more kindness and understanding.”
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, an LGBTQ-centered Catholic group, said in a statement to the US TODAY that Francis’ statement “will help save lives and promote respect for LGBTQ+ people, particularly in areas where the law or social norms make them victims of fear, hatred, violence and death.”
“The Pope reminds the Church that how people treat each other in the social world is of much greater moral importance than what people might do in the privacy of a bedroom,” the statement said.
Contributors: Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY; Associated Press