Pope Francis has decried laws that criminalize homosexuality as being “unjust” and has called upon Catholic clergy to welcome people who identify as LGBTQ into the Church.
The Pope said that a “distinction” must be drawn between sin and crime. He argued that, although homosexuality is a sin, it should not be criminalized. He urged members of the Catholic Church to be more welcoming to sexual minorities.
The comments were hailed as a milestone by gay rights activists, but the Pope has also been subjected to increased criticism from more conservative members of the Catholic Church. Some cardinals and bishops are skeptical of what has been described as a progressive agenda.
The Pope discusses homosexuality
“Being homosexual is not a crime,” said the leader of the Catholic Church. “It’s not a crime. Yes, it’s a sin, but let’s make the distinction first between sin and crime.”
During the interview, Pope Francis revealed he believes the attitudes of clergymen toward homosexuality were culturally ingrained. “These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said, adding that they should treat people with “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”
Pope Francis has previously spoken about homosexuality. “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he inquired in 2013.
However, in 2015, the pontiff argued that same-sex marriage “threatens the family” and “disfigures God’s plan for creation.” Then, in January 2022, he urged parents not to condemn their children if they came out as gay but to support them instead.
The Pope has been accused by both gay rights activists and Catholic conservatives of sending out mixed signals on the issue.
Pope Francis has reportedly faced increased criticism since the death of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, on December 31, 2022. According to The Telegraph, several books have also been published by conservative Catholic Church members since the deceased pope’s death. These have criticized the approach of Pope Francis to several issues.
In an open letter that circulated last year, George Pell, an Australian cardinal, called Pope Francis’ leadership of the Catholic Church “a catastrophe” and a “toxic nightmare.” The book What Christianity Is, written by Benedict XVI and published posthumously after his death, is also critical of Francis’ progressive papacy.
Pope Francis has responded to criticism by saying: “The only thing I ask is that they do it to my face because that’s how we all grow, right?”