Pope Francis has called on all Christians especially the Roman Catholic Church to apologize and seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they had treated them.
Speaking to reporters as he returned to Rome from Armenia, he said the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.
The pontiff said the church has not only wronged those who are gay, it has also marginalized the women, the poor and even children who he said have been forced into labor.
He said Christians should not just apologize, but seek for their forgiveness and mercy.
Pope Francis, who is the 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, was speaking in agreement to the comments by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx that the Church needed to say sorry for the way it has treated the gay community.
“We Christians have to apologize for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gay people), but we must ask for forgiveness. Not just apologize – forgiveness,” he said.
Francis was however saddened when the reporter asked if an apology was made more urgent by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida this month.
He recalled Church teachings that homosexuals “should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”
“I think that the Church not only should apologize … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons,” the pope added.
In 2013, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s teachings that homosexual orientations were not sin but that homosexual acts were sin and that homosexuals should try to be chaste. He repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” comment he made about gays on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013.
“The question is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?”
The pope’s words came just two weeks after the Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub in which 49 people were killed.
Addressing the Pope’s call for Church to seek forgiveness, Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi said that the pope, by saying “has that condition”, did not imply a medical condition but “a person in that situation”. In Italian, the word “condition” can also mean “situation”.
Francis has been hailed by many in the gay community for being the most merciful pope toward them in recent history. However, the conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.
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He told reporters on the plane “there are traditions in some countries, some cultures, that have a different mentality about this question (homosexuals)” and there are “some (gay) demonstrations that are too offensive for some”. But he suggested that those were not grounds for discrimination or marginalization of gays.