Pontiff urges Church to seek forgiveness from gay people
Pope Francis has called on Christians and the Catholic Church to seek forgiveness from gay people over historical discrimination. He reaffirmed the Church’s belief that homosexuals should not be discriminated against and that they should be “respected.”
But he said that it should apologise to gay people based on the way they have been treated in the past. Speaking to reporters on the way back from his recent visit to Armenia last month, the Pope added that the apology should be extended to women, the poor and children who have been exploited.
“I think that the Church not only should apologise to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise 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 apologise for having blessed so many weapons,” he said.
Referring to the Church having “blessed so many weapons”, Francis did not elaborate on what he meant, but it appeared to be a reference to religious leaders who have actively backed wars in the past. The Pope has regularly spoken out in defence of gay people and has called for greater tolerance from the Christian community towards them.
In 2013, on his first foreign trip following his election, he said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Comments such as this have been hailed by many in the gay community, but at the same time they have drawn criticism from more conservative Catholics.
Although he has stressed that being gay is not wrong, Francis has consistently argued that the Church considers homosexual acts to be sinful. Upon his return to Rome, the Pontiff took part in an unprecedented Vatican ceremony where he honoured his predecessor, the retired Pope Benedict XVI.
The celebration, which was held in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, marked the 65th anniversary of Benedict’s ordination as a priest. It was staged, in part, to show signs of continuity between the two papacies, in a bid to ease concerns from conservatives who view the current Pope as too liberal.
Francis has praised Benedict for his support, for “protecting me, having my back, with his prayers”. And he added that when some Church officials complained about his attitude to Benedict, the former Pope “sent them packing”.