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What Pope Francis has said about the LGBTQ community

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

The Catholic Church gets its name from the Latin word "catholicus" - which came from the Greek adjective "katholikos" - meaning "universal". The Catholic Church is meant to be universal, it is meant to be there for all who want it. And yet, it has failed to welcome the LGBTQ community, whether it is through persecution or ignorance.

Pope Francis is remorseful about the way the Church has treated gay people. In 2016, the pontiff said that the Roman Catholic Church should apologise to gay people for the way it has treated them. He told reporters that the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.

The Pope said at the time: "I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they [homosexuals] should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.

"I think that the Church not only should apologise... to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons."

You have to compare the attitudes of Pope Francis, and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI. Before Benedict became the first pontiff to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, he said that gay marriage was a threat to global peace. His successor, however, was more accommodating to the LGBTQ community. Months after he was named the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis remarked: “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The LGBT community has been officially recognised by the Vatican for the first time in June this year. In a paper examining the Catholic Church’s relationship with young people, it used the term "LGBT" for the first time when it said "some LGBT youth” were looking to “benefit from greater closeness and experience greater care by the church".

More recently, the pontiff reportedly told Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay man and a victim of clerical sexual abuse, in a private conversation: "You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

Just to remind what the Catechism of the Catholic Church, penned by Pope John Paul II in 1992, says about homosexuality: it names “homosexual acts” as “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law,” and names “homosexual tendencies” as “objectively disordered.”

And now, a pontiff who is more liberal, certainly by Catholic standards, tells a gay man that God made him like this is an important moment for the Church.

It is, however, not all rosy for Pope Francis. During a closed-door session at the Italian Bishops' Conference, the pontiff reportedly talked about gay men in a seminary. And, according to one bishop present, the Pope said: "If in doubt, better not let them enter." Meaning that, if someone is gay, they shouldn't study for the priesthood, CNN reports.

These are baby steps for the Catholic Church when it comes to the LGBTQ community. A baby step for the Church is a huge step for Catholicism into the modern world.

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