Pope Francis has criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality. As “unjust,” saying God loves all his children as. They are and calling on Catholic bishops who support the law to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.
“Being gay is not a crime,” Francis said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Francis acknowledged that Catholic bishops in some parts of the world support laws. That criminalize homosexuality or discriminate against the LGBTQ community. And he himself referred to the issue “sin.” But he attributes such attitudes to the cultural background. And says bishops in particular need to go through. A process of change to recognize the dignity of everyone.
“These bishops must have a process of conversion,. He said, adding that they should “exercise tenderness, please, as God has done for each of us.”
According to The Human Dignity Trust, some 67 countries. Jurisdictions worldwide criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity. 11 of which have or may impose the death penalty, which is working to end such laws. Even where laws are not enforced, experts say. They contribute to harassment, stigma and violence against LGBTQ people.
In the United States, more than a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws. On the books despite a 2003 Supreme Court ruling declaring them unconstitutional. Gay rights advocates say the old laws are used to harass gays. And point to new laws, such as Florida’s “don’t say gay” law. Which bans instruction about sexual orientation. And gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, as evidence. Continued efforts to marginalize LGBTQ people.
The United Nations has called for an end to the criminalization of homosexuality.
Saying they violate the right to privacy and freedom from discrimination. And violate countries’ obligations under international law to protect. The human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation. or gender identity.
Declaring such laws “unjust,” Francis said the Catholic Church can and should work to end them. “It must be done. It will do it,” he said.
Francis cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church as saying. That homosexuals must be welcomed and respected and not marginalized or discriminated against.
“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 said while speaking to the AP at the Vatican hotel where he is staying.
Such laws are prevalent in Africa and the Middle East. And are from British colonial times or inspired by Islamic law. Some Catholic bishops have supported them as consistent with Vatican teaching. That considers homosexual activity “depraved.” While others have called for their abolition as a violation of basic human dignity.
In 2019, Francis was expected to issue a statement opposing. The criminalization of homosexuality during a meeting with human rights groups conducting research. On such laws and the effects of so-called “conversion therapy”.
In the end, the Pope did not meet with the groups, which instead met with Vatican No. 2, who reaffirmed “the dignity of every human being and against every form of violence.”
On Tuesday, Francis said there needs to be a distinction between crime and sin when it comes to homosexuality.
“Being gay is not a crime,” he said. “It is not a crime. Yes, but it is a sin. OK, but first let’s distinguish between sin and crime.”
“It is also a sin to lack charity towards one another,” he added.
Francis hasn’t changed that teaching. But he has made outreach to the LGBTQ community a hallmark of his papacy.
Beginning with his famous 2013 declaration, “Who am I to judge?” When asked about alleged gay priests, Francis has and ministered to the gay and trans community. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he advocated legal protection for same-sex couples. As an alternative to legalizing same-sex marriage, which Catholic doctrine forbids.
Despite such publicity, Francis was criticized.
By the Catholic LGBTQ community for a 2021 decree from the Vatican’s doctrinal office. That the church cannot bless same-sex unions “because God cannot bless sin.”
In 2008 the Vatican refused to sign a UN declaration. That called for the decriminalization of homosexuality, complaining. That the text went beyond the original scope. And included language about “sexual orientation. And “gender identity” it found problematic. In a statement at the time, the Vatican called on countries to avoid “unjust discrimination. Against homosexuals and end punishments against them.