In a new interview, Pope Francis said homosexuality “is not a crime” and condemned “unjust” laws penalizing it.
“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” the pontiff told The Associated Press during a recent interview at the Vatican, noting “we are all children of God” whom He loves.
Francis did, though, say same-sex relationships are sinful.
“It’s not a crime,” the pope said. “Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first, let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime. It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.”
The pope went on to address Catholic bishops who have voiced support for laws criminalizing homosexuality in countries around the world. While he did acknowledge homosexual relations are sinful, he urged faith leaders to distinguish between legal crimes and religious sins.
To those bishops who feel homosexuality should carry with it legal consequences, Francis encouraged them to reconsider their points of view on the matter.
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“These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he told The AP, adding such clergy members should exhibit the same “tenderness as God has for each one of us.”
Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest often seen by critics as politically progressive, described the pope’s comments as “an immense step forward” and “a historic step forward for the church.”
He added Francis’ words “will help to lessen violence against LGBTQ people and save lives.”
The AP reported that some 67 countries or jurisdictions still have laws penalizing — often violently — those who engage in consensual same-sex relations. Of those countries, 11 allow for the death penalty, according to data compiled by The Human Dignity Trust.
Francis’ comments come amid a decision from a federal judge in Oregon who ruled this week in favor of faith-based schools by dismissing a lawsuit that would have ended some religious exemptions protecting biblical marriage in faith-based institutions.
As CBN News reported, the ruling is a win for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Under Title IX, member institutions are allowed to operate based on a biblical framework of marriage and sexuality while remaining exempt from anti-discrimination laws.
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