Pope Francis criticised the “unjust” policies that punish gay people while stating that homosexuality is a “sin” but not a “crime.”
The 86-year-old stated in an interview on Tuesday that God loves his children just as they are and urged bishops to support legislation allowing LGBTQ individuals to be received into the church.
The Associated Press quoted him as saying: “Being homosexual is not a crime.”
He stated that some Catholic bishops favour legislation that criminalise homosexuality or that discriminate against the LGBTQ community, and he referred to the problem as a “sin.” However, he ascribed such viewpoints to cultural contexts and asserted that bishops in particular needed to go through a transformational process to acknowledge the dignity of everyone.
‘These bishops have to have a process of conversion,’ he said, adding that they should apply ‘tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us’.
The United Nations (UN) has repeatedly called for an end to laws criminalising homosexuality outright, saying they violate rights to privacy and freedom from discrimination and are a breach of countries’ obligations under international law to protect the human rights of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Declaring such laws ‘unjust’, Francis said the Catholic Church can and should work to put an end to them.
‘It must do this. It must do this,’ he said.
Francis quoted the Catechism of the Catholic Church in saying gays must be welcomed and respected and should not be marginalised or discriminated against.
‘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, speaking from the Vatican hotel where he lives.