Pope Francis: Church Must Accompany Gays, Not Discriminate

On his return flight today back from Armenia, the Holy Father said the Church must apologize to homosexual persons for having ‘marginalized’ them.

Pope Francis answers a reporter's question during his June 26 flight to Rome at the end of his three-day papal visit to Armenia.
Pope Francis answers a reporter's question during his June 26 flight to Rome at the end of his three-day papal visit to Armenia. (photo: Edward Pentin)

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — In a wide-ranging in-flight press conference on his way back from Armenia on Sunday, Pope Francis responded to a question on recent comments made by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who said the Church must apologize to homosexual persons for having “marginalized” them.

Francis agreed that the Church ought to apologize in cases of discrimination against individuals struggling with same-sex attraction and referred to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which emphasizes the need to accompany and respect these persons.

“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 Pope said June 26 on board his return flight from Armenia to Rome.

The problem is “a person that has a condition,” he said, but, echoing his comment on the way back from Rio de Janeiro in 2013, noted that that if the person “has goodwill and seeks God, who are we to judge?”

“We must accompany them well. ... This is what the Catechism says, a clear catechism.”

Pope Francis spoke to some 70 journalists aboard his flight from Armenia, which he visited June 24-26.

While there, he met with the country’s president, Serzh Sargsyan, and visited memorial sites honoring those fallen during the Metz Yeghérn, also called the Armenian Genocide. He also met privately and signed a joint declaration with Catholicos Karekin II, head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

In the course of the hour-long conversation with journalists, Francis touched on other topics, including Brexit, female deacons, Christian unity and the role of the pope emeritus.

He was asked his opinion on comments made by Cardinal Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany, on Thursday at a conference in Dublin, titled “The Role of Church in a Pluralist Society: Good Riddance or Good Influence?”

During the conference, held at Trinity College, the cardinal said that “the history of homosexuals in our societies is very bad because we’ve done a lot to marginalize [them].”

As a Church and as a society, “we’ve also [got] to say, ‘Sorry, sorry,’” the cardinal said.

The question, in addition to asking for the Pope’s opinion on the cardinal’s comments, also asked for his thoughts on accusations following the Orlando shooting that Christians were partly to blame for the hatred that led to the incident.

He noted how, in certain countries, there is a “different mentality” to this problem and said the Church “must not only ask forgiveness to the gay person who is offended. But she must ask forgiveness to the poor too, to women who are exploited, to children who are exploited for labor. She must ask forgiveness for having blessed so many weapons.”

He emphasized that “Christians must ask forgiveness for having not accompanied so many choices, so many families. … Christians must ask forgiveness for many things, not just these: forgiveness, not just apologies,” he said, noting that while there are a lot of Christians, pastors included, who are not holy, there are “many saints” who are not seen, because true holiness is “hidden.”

He referred to the Parable of the Wheat and the Weeds and said we ought to pray for the Lord to take out the weeds and make the wheat grow.

“This is the life of the Church. We can’t put limits. All of us are saints, because all of us have the Holy Spirit,” he said, but also cautioned that “we are all sinners, me first of all!”

Pope Francis receives a delegation from Rome’s Rebibbia Prison, June 21, 2021.

Prisoners Meet Pope Francis Before Visiting Vatican Museums

The men who met Pope Francis are inmates of a low-security prison, part of the Rebibbia complex located in Rome’s east suburb. The prison caters to those with addictive disorders and includes a treatment center and program for inmates with substance dependence.