Pope Francis has asked all Christians around the world to apologies to gay people for the way they have been treated by believers, saying the Church has no right to judge those who see themselves as lesbians, gays, bisexual or as transgenders (LGBTs).
“I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times” said the pontiff.
He also said the Church should seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalised including children who had been forced into labour.
“The Church not only should apologise to a gay person whom it offended and treated badly but it must also apologise to the poor, women and children who have been exploited and forced into work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons.”
His remarks have been hailed by liberal Catholics and members of the LGBTs community as a breakthrough in the church’s tone toward homosexuality. CNN has described the pope’s plea to the Christian community as “groundbreaking”.
The comments, made on Sunday, continue from what he said in 2013 that gays must not be judged by accepted and integrated into society.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
But some conservative Catholics have roasted the Pope for making ambiguous claims about sexual morality. An example being the Catholic Church in Malawi which, in a letter issued last March, described homosexuality as evil.
Malawi had temporarily suspended laws that criminalise sodomy and other homosexual practices through a presidential decree that Peter Mutharika issued to ‘pardon’ two gay suspects arrested last year. An injunction was however taken against the decree with the court ruling the presidential order as illegal on the basis that the President does not have a mandate to suspend any Act of Parliament.