Church should apologise to gay people and others who were marginalised – Pope Francis

In a wide-ranging inflight press conference on his way back from Armenia on Sunday, Pope Francis responded to a question on recent comments made by 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 Janiero in 2013, noted that that if the person “has good will and who 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 topics including Brexit, female deacons, Christian unity, and the role of the Pope emeritus.
He was asked his opinion on comments made by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising 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!”

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  1. Mary Vallely says:

    ” The matter is a person that has that condition [and] that has good will because they search for God,” said the pontiff.”
    I’m not sure I share Paddy Ferry’s optimism about us moving on if our beloved Francis ( and he is indeed beloved) still doesn’t understand that being gay isn’t a ‘ condition’ like an illness that may or may not be cured!!
    It could be a poor translation of course and these off-the- cuff remarks should be treated with a little more tolerance and charity than usual, I suppose.
    Saying that there is a lot in what he says that fills me with delight . (Not mentioning his need to understand women better, of course!)

    1. This item has been updated with the report from America magazine. This includes a clarification, as follows;
      “(Note: Federico Lombardi, S.J., the Vatican spokesman, said that when the pope used the word ‘condition’ in Italian, he actually meant ‘situation.’)”
      and an advisory from their editor;
      “Editor’s Note: this translation is for working purposes only, made by America’s correspondent in the absence so far of an official translation. It remains subject to modification.”

  2. Mary Vallely says:

    Thanks for reporting that clarification.

  3. Mary, mention of the “condition” jarred with me too but perhaps the explanation @ACP2 ,ie, Francis really meant situation, clarifies what he really meant. I am more than willing to give Francis the benefit of any doubt going!

  4. Nessan Vaughan says:

    Pope Francis is, in my view, providing tremendous leadership and is encouraging local churches to proclaim the gospel in ways which take account of local culture, tradition and circumstances. This approach is consistent with what the Second Vatican Council envisaged. As yet, very few local Churches have taken up this challenge. The Irish church, in particular, has been slow to respond, with a few notable exceptions.
    Francis’ apology to gay and other people is welcome and consistent with his pastoral approach. His emphasis on the primacy of praxis over doctrine is reminiscent of the fathers of Liberation Theology (who proclaimed the preeminence of orthopraxis, rather than orthodoxy). Of course, Francis hasn’t so far changed traditional doctrine but he has presented it in such a way that is inclusive and respectful of a variety of viewpoints and varying emphases.
    I pray for Francis’ good health and that his pontificate will be long enough to effect and facilitate significant changes to church structures and presentation of the Gospel.

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