Pope Francis: Church must apologize to gay people

Pope during news conference
Photo credit: CNS/Paul Haring

In a press conference on Sunday, June 26, during a flight back to Rome, Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church must apologize to gay people: “The church must say it’s sorry for not having comported itself well many times, many times. … I believe that the church not only must say it’s sorry … to this person that is gay that it has offended. But it must say it’s sorry to the poor, also, to mistreated women, to children forced to work.” He then clarified: “When I say the church: Christians. The church is holy. We are the sinners.”

Following this, the pope continued: “I will repeat the same thing I said on the first trip. I will also repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that [gay people] should not be discriminated against, that they have to be respected, pastorally accompanied. … The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God. Who are we to judge them? We must accompany well — what the Catechism says. The Catechism is clear.” More coverage of this can be found in the National Catholic Reporter.

Members of the Equally Blessed Coalition had this to say, following the Pope’s candid remarks.

Call To Action:

In addition to Francis’ pastoral words, Catholic officials must act to reform teachings and practices that refer to gay people as “objectively disordered” and “intrinsically evil” and which continue to exclude and deny women equal participation and leadership in the church. … Call To Action continues to be heartened by Francis’ openness to ongoing ecclesial transformation. Teachings and practices that affirm and embrace our LGBTQ friends and extend true equality to women embody not only a church of compassionate words, but more importantly, one of just and loving action. Full statement from Call To Action


In order to bring about the full healing of the relationship between the Catholic Church and LGBT people, the Church must not only acknowledge the wrongs of the past, but take concrete actions that demonstrate its commitment to treating LGBT people justly from now on.  For example, Catholic institutions must stop firing LGBT people simply because their sexual orientation or marital status becomes known.  The Church must stop conducting public campaigns that seek the right to discriminate unjustly against LGBT people in the civil arena on the specious grounds of ‘religious liberty.’  It must cease campaigns against same-sex civil marriage and LGBT civil rights protections around the globe.  And it must speak out strongly and clearly against the horrific violence and discrimination that is often directed against LGBT people in countries around the world, including our own, many with substantial or majority Catholic populations. Full statement from Call To Action

Fortunate Families:

Yes, Catholics and other Christian churches have marginalized our children, and they deserve an apology, but even more so they deserve outreach that makes them feel welcome in our churches. The words “objectively disordered” and “intrinsically evil” have given ammunition to those who would harm our children, and when internalized, often produce unhealthy self-loathing. A significant part of this apology should be to stop using this language. Being sorry should result in a change in church policy. The bishops and clergy reaching out to listen to the experiences of LGBT+ persons, educating themselves about the issues of the LGBT+ community, and welcoming LGBT+ support groups into parish spaces would be an excellent start to repairing the damage that years of condemnation have wrought. Full statement from Fortunate Families

New Ways Ministry:

Pope Francis’ comments did not come out of a vacuum, but out of the decades of work that Catholics have been doing to remind Church leaders that the Church was too often complicit in the social prejudice and physical harm that LGBT people experience.  The prayers, witness, work, and ministry of so many dedicated Catholics has finally risen to the top of the hierarchy and is starting to be heard and enacted. … New Ways Ministry thanks Pope Francis for his example of Christian humility, and we encourage him to continue to pave the way for even greater changes for LGBT people and the Catholic Church. Full statement from New Ways Ministry

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