Pope Francis says homosexuality is not a crime and Catholic bishops who support laws that criminalize homosexuality or otherwise discriminate against the LGBTQ community should apply "tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us." The comments came in a Tuesday interview with the AP, which notes Francis is the first pope to come out against laws that criminalize same-sex relationships. Francis said the Catholic Church "must" work to eradicate the "unjust" laws.
"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 from the Vatican, urging bishops to welcome LGBTQ people into the church, especially in the 67 countries, mostly in Africa and the Middle East, which have laws against homosexuality on the books. He spoke days before he is to travel to Africa and specifically South Sudan, where homosexuality is criminalized, per the Washington Post.
While Francis noted "being homosexual is not a crime," he did describe homosexuality as a "sin." But "it's also a sin to lack charity with one another," he noted. The church's official stance is that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered." The pope—who had surgery to remove part of his colon in 2021 as a result of a condition called diverticulosis, which is marked by pockets in the lining of the intestine—also revealed that the condition has "returned," per the New York Times. Still, the 86-year-old said his "good health" remained "under control." (Read more Pope Francis stories.)