In a landmark development for the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis on Tuesday declared that “Being homosexual isn’t a crime” and called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality worldwide.

Pope Francis declared that all laws which criminalise gays and lesbians are “unjust” and called for the Catholic Church to work to put an end to them.

In an interview with The Associated Press (AP), Pope Francis said God loves all his children just as they are. The head of the Roman Catholic Church called on Catholic bishops to welcome LGBTQ people into the church.

Speaking to the AP in the Vatican hotel where he lives, Pope Francis said,
“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.”

“…people with homosexual tendencies must be welcomed, not marginalized…”

However, despite calling for LGBTQ people to be welcomed and treated with dignity, the Pope insisted that homosexuality is still a sin.

Pope Francis articulated the position:

“It’s not a crime. 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,” he added.

Although the Pope’s remarks only addressed homosexuality and did not expressly mention transgender or nonbinary individuals, supporters of broader LGBTQ inclusiveness in the Catholic Church lauded the Pope’s remarks as a significant step forward.

New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBTQ advocacy group, said

“The pope is reminding the church that the way people treat one another in the social world is of much greater moral importance than what people may possibly do in the privacy of a bedroom,”

In 2020, Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as Pope while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary “Francesco,” which had its premiere at the Rome Film Festival.

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way, they are legally covered,” the Pope said. “I stood up for that.”

However, Pope Francis came under fire in 2021 after seemingly backtracking on his views about marriage following a 2021 decree from the Vatican’s doctrine office that said the church cannot bless same-sex unions.

Associated Press