Pope Francis said on Sunday that he thought the Catholic Church owes gay people, and others the Church has marginalized, an apology, according to the Associated Press. The context of the statement was Francis being asked if he agreed with a similar statement from a German cardinal, who, responding to the attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, recently said that the Church has treated gay people poorly and should apologize to them. The pope first repeated what he has previously said on the subject, but went further this time, according to Crux:
“If a person who has that condition [being gay] has good will and is seeking God, who are we to judge?”
Francis said there are plenty of other groups out there who probably also deserve an apology — while also insisting on a distinction between the Church, “which is holy,” and individual Christians, “who are sinners.”
“[The Church] shouldn’t just apologize to a gay person whom it has offended,” he said.
“It should ask forgiveness also from the poor, from exploited women, from children exploited as laborers. It has to ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons … Christians should ask forgiveness for not having accompanied so many persons, many families.”
Crux adds that Francis also conceded “that there are ‘some traditions and cultures that have a different mentality,’ and said apologies are in order whenever there are ‘people we could have defended and we didn’t.’”
The AP mentions that Francis also said he believed that some gay behavior can be condemned for being a “bit offensive to others,” but regardless, the apology suggestion is but the latest evidence of the pope attempting to shift the Church to be more welcoming of gay people, though, as the AP notes, many “are still waiting for progress after a two-year consultation of the church on family issues failed to chart concrete, new pastoral avenues for them.”
Francis made the remarks during a news conference aboard the papal plane on the way back from a trip to Armenia, where he had made a point of using the word genocide to refer to the organized massacre of some 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of Turks in 1915, a label Turkey has always vehemently rejected.