Church should apologize to gays & women for ill treatment – Pope Francis

Pope Francis © Tony Gentile
Pope Francis has publicly declared the Church should ask gay people and women for forgiveness for hundreds of years of ill treatment at its hands.

The comments were made as the Pope flew back from a visit to Armenia. Francis did not restrict them to just the LGBT community and women, adding that the Church was “turning a blind eye” to child labor and should apologize for “blessing” weapons, according to Reuters.

Francis was answering a question about a similar remark by a German cardinal regarding an apology to gay people. He reminded journalists that, according to Christian teachings, gays “should not be discriminated against. They should be respected [and] accompanied pastorally.”

He went on to say: "I think that the Church not only should apologize ... to a gay person whom it offended, but it must also apologize 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 apologize for having blessed so many weapons."

Pope Francis is the most progressive pontiff to date and is known for being an outspoken critic of a number of traditional attitudes, with his persona polarizing the religious world. Many Catholics take issue with his views, arguing them to be too ambiguous on sexual morality. His attitude on the LGBT question dates back to 2013, when he first famously said “who am I to judge?”

"The questions is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?” he reiterated. A Vatican spokesman clarified the Italian word for “condition” also meant “situation.”

According to the religious leader, “We Christians have to apologize for so many things, not just for this [treatment of gays], but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologize! Forgiveness! Lord, it is a word we forget so often!”

Despite his admittance there are still cultures in existence which take some demonstrations of homosexuality to be “offensive,” Francis believes there is no continuing bases for marginalization in the modern world.

The Catholic view on homosexuality considers it sinful, and even priests can get in trouble for so much as admitting to being gay. In October last year, Polish priest Krzysztof Charamsa openly accused the Church of making the lives of gay Catholics worldwide “a hell”. The letter was addressed to Pope Francis, following Charamsa’s expulsion from priesthood. This was after he admitted to being in a gay relationship.

France’s ambassador to the Holy See, Laurent Stefanini, is also openly gay, something that led to the Vatican’s refusal to recognize him.

READ MORE: ‘Resisting deviation’: Thousands protest gay unions, adoptions in Rome (PHOTOS)

And in January tens of thousands flooded the streets of Rome to demand the Italian government give up on a law that would provide legal recognition to gay couples, as well as limited adoption rights. The crowd included priests.

The country remains split on the issue, with many ministers, including interior minister Angelino Alfano, openly against the coalition government of Matteo Renzi greenlighting any laws that would favor the LGBT community.

The Pope likewise did not shy away from remarks on the EU, but expressed optimism the complicated union would find another form of existence after Britain leaving.

Also, perhaps surprisingly, he said the previous Pope, Benedict, defended his views against Church officials who had gone to him to complain the new Francis was being too liberal. According to Francis, Benedict “sent them packing.”

The Pope has just returned from a trip to Armenia, where he could not avoid drawing criticism from Ankara after making repeated references to the 1915 ‘genocide’ of the Armenians by Ottoman Turks. Ankara has accused him and the papacy as a whole of having a “crusader mentality.”