Pope Francis has reiterated that homosexuality is “not a crime” in a new interview published Wednesday.
The interview with the Associated Press covered a wide range of topics, including laws that criminalize homosexuality and sodomy.
“Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” the pope told the AP.
The remark promises to be a point of controversy. On the one hand, the Catholic Church has long condemned any forms of unjust discrimination of those with same-sex attraction, including laws in dozens of countries that criminalize homosexuality and sodomy. On the other hand, the Church does not teach that same-sex attraction is sinful in itself but that it is “intrinsically disordered.”
In the interview conducted at Pope Francis’ residence in Vatican City on Jan. 24, the pope reiterated the Holy See’s position that laws that criminalize homosexuality outright are “unjust” and that the Church must work to put an end to them.
Under Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued a statement in 2008 urging that “every sign of unjust discrimination toward homosexual persons should be avoided” and that countries should “do away with criminal penalties against them.”
“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,” Pope Francis said.
The pope told AP that bishops who support laws that criminalize homosexuality “have to have a process of conversion” and should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”
Francis attributed such attitudes to cultural backgrounds and said bishops in particular need to undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.
“Every man and every woman must have a window in their lives where they can pour out their hope and where they can see the dignity of God. And being homosexual is not a crime. It is a human condition,” he said.
In the interview, which lasted more than one hour, Pope Francis also decried the German Synodal Way as unhelpful, revealed that the intestinal problem that he had surgery for in 2021 has returned, and denied that he had any role in the handling of the alleged abuse by Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik.
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