“We are all children of God, and God loves us just as we are and for the strength that each one of us fights for our dignity,” he said.
What Pope Francis has said about same-sex marriage and civil unions in the past
At least 67 countries, most in Africa or the Middle East, have national laws against same-sex relationships, while at least nine others criminalize gender expression against transgender or other people, according to Human Rights Watch.
The Pope plans to visit South Sudan, one of the countries that criminalizes homosexuality, from February 3 to 5.
Meanwhile, in the United States, more than a dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws, even though the Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2003, according to the Associated Press.
While Francis criticized the criminalization of homosexuality, he made it clear that he believes homosexuality is a sin. “Let us distinguish between a sin and a crime,” the Pope said.
The British Colonial Origins of Anti-Gay Laws
The church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” and while Francis has tried to strike a more welcoming tone toward LGBT Catholics, he most famously said, “Who am I to judge?” — He has not been willing to alter the official position of the church.
That has left some of his followers wanting more. In 2021, the Vatican’s body of doctrine said that Catholic priests cannot bless same-sex marriages. That decree, signed by Francis, came even after he was quoted in a documentary as an advocate of civil union laws.
The question of how the church addresses LGBT issues could come to a boil later this year during an extraordinary all-church assembly that Francis will convene in October that involves bringing together different perspectives. Conservatives fear the referendum will undermine the church’s long-standing moral positions.
A Vatican preparatory document cited calls by parts of the church to be more welcoming to those who “feel a tension between belonging to the Church and their own love relationships.”