In another step toward acceptance of gays in the Catholic church, Pope Francis has said the church and Christians should seek forgiveness from gay people.
His comments were made aboard the pontiff’s plan on a return back to Rome from a visit to Armenia.
In the hour-long freewheeling conversation that has become a trademark of his international travels, Pope Francis was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologise to gay people.
The Pope looked sad 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.
Pope Francis recalled Church teachings, saying: “[Homosexuals] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.
The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are and that homosexuals should try to be chaste.
Pope Francis repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” comment he made about homosexual people on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013.
“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.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said 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”.
“We Christians have to apologise for so many things, not just for this [treatment of gay people] — but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologise! Forgiveness! Lord, it is a word we forget so often!” he said.
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Pope Francis has been hailed by many in the gay community for being the most merciful pope towards them in recent history, and conservative Catholics have criticised him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.
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 those were not grounds for discrimination or marginalisation of gay people.
Last Updated on Jun 28, 2016