Pope Francis has come out in support of homosexual people, slamming laws that criminalise homosexuality. He said: “God loves all his children just as they are. Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” he told news agency AP. He also implored Catholic bishops to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.
He said that the negative attitude towards the LGBTQ community could be attributed to cultural backgrounds and urged bishops to “undergo a process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone”.
Same-gender sexual activity is criminalised in about 67 countries or jurisdictions, , 11 of which impose death penalty for the “crime”, AP reported citing data from The Human Dignity Trust that opposes such laws.
Pope Francis called such laws unjust and said “the Catholic Church must work to put an end to them”. He said members of the gay community must not be discriminated against and should be welcomed and respected. “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,” Francis was quoted as saying.
According to Francis, a distinction must be made between a crime and a sin with regard to homosexuality. Being homosexual is not a crime,” he said. “It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first, let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime.” According to Catholic rules, gay people must be treated with respect, but homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”.
The Vatican in 2008 declined to sign a UN proclamation that called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality. In a statement at the time, the Vatican asked countries to avoid “unjust discrimination” against homosexuality and end criminalising them.