Christians Should Apologize for Poor Treatment of Gays, Pope Says

Christians Should Apologize for Poor Treatment of Gays, Pope Says

- in Faith and Religion
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Pope Francis/Paul Haring Catholic News Service
Pope Francis/Paul Haring/Catholic News Service

Pope Francis told the press Sunday that the Catholic Church should seek forgiveness for how it has treated the LGBT community in the past. The Pope emphasized that an apology would not be enough, but that the Church must also ask for forgiveness.

“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,” Francis said at a press conference aboard the papal plane returning from Armenia. “I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended, but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”
Francis shook his head when asked about the Orlando massacre wherein 49 patrons at a gay nightclub, Pulse, were gunned down and killed.
“The church must say it is sorry for not having behaved as it should many times, many times – when I say the ‘church,’ I mean we Christians because the church is holy; we are the sinners,” the pope said. “We Christians must say we are sorry.”
Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at large of America magazine, called the Pope’s apology to gays and lesbians “a groundbreaking moment.”
“While St. John Paul II apologized to several groups in 2000 – the Jewish people, indigenous peoples, immigrants and women, among them – no pope has ever come close to apologizing to the LGBT community. And the Pope is correct of course. First, because forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. And second, because no group feels more marginalized in the church today than LGBT people.”

Not everyone agrees. One group, Faith In America, has rejected the apology.

“Pope Francis’ comments about the Church’s ‘past treatment’ of gays doesn’t acknowledge the harm being caused in present day. The harm LGBT people face from the church is ongoing,” Eliel Cruz, Executive Director of Faith In America said. “The Church’s teachings on homosexuality as sinful is causing this harm.”

Francis’ request for forgiveness came as a response, not as something he initiated, to comment on Cardinal Reinhard Marx, an advisor to Francis’, similar comments. Both Marx and Francis’ expressed concern for how the Church has hurt the gay community in the past without recognizing the harm being caused today.

“Seeking an apology without recognizing the root cause of the harm caused is useless,” Cruz said. “Francis’ apologizes for harm caused without changing the theology that continues to do this harm. This is abuser dynamics in which Pope Francis and the Catholic Church act as abusers would. Francis continues to believe LGBT people are ‘intrinsically disordered.’ The Catholic Church’s teachings on LGBT people demonizes the community. They cannot apologize and seek forgiveness while they’re still actively harming the LGBT community. Apologies are empty without commitment to reparations.”

Francis also discussed the role of women in the Catholic Church.

“Women think differently than we men do,” he said, “and we cannot make good, sound decisions without listening to the women.”

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