Pope Francis: Homosexuality is not a ‘crime’

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ROME – In what has already baffled the conservative corners of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis in his 10-year pontificate has made the most decisive remarks on homosexuality. “Being gay is not a crime,” he told the The Bharat Express News in an interview in Rome. ‘It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime. It is also a sin to lack charity towards each other.”

He then criticized the 67 countries that criminalize homosexuality, calling them “unjust” and calling on bishops in countries that support such legislation to undergo “a process of change” to recognize the dignity of everyone. “These bishops must have a process of conversion.”

The remarks, made in Spanish, will no doubt reignite criticism of Francis’ ostensibly “liberal” stance on homosexuality, which many argue is inconsistent with Catholic dogma that calls homosexuality “intrinsically disordered.” He repeated his common comments about welcoming gays into the Catholic Church. “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.”

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When asked about the criticisms of those cardinals and bishops who joined Pope Benedict XVI, who died on December 31, 2022, he called them unpleasant, “like a rash that bothers you a little.”

However, he said he did not want to silence them. “For the rest, you’d rather they didn’t criticize,” he said. “But I prefer they do it because that means there’s freedom of speech.”

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He said that if they were not allowed to express opposition, the Vatican would be a dictatorship, which, despite the Pope being supreme leader, it is not. “If it is not so, there would be a dictatorship from a distance, as I call it, where the emperor is present and no one can tell him anything,” he said. “No, let them speak because … criticism helps you grow and improve things.”

Francis was also asked about his relationship with the disgraced Cardinal George Pell, who died on January 10 following hip surgery. Pell was convicted and later acquitted of historic sex crimes in his native Australia, and was criticized for his role in covering up clergy sexual abuse. Pell also wrote an anonymous blog post criticizing the pope as a “disaster”. Francis, who attended his funeral at St. Peter’s Basilica, said he held no grudges. “Even if they say he criticized me, fine, he has a right. Criticism is a human right,” said Francis. “He was a great guy. Great.”

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Francis also clarified rumors about whether he will step down now that Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to step down in 400 years, has died. “I am in good health. For my age, I’m normal,” said the 86-year-old, adding that he still suffers from diverticulitis, which saw the removal of 30 centimeters of his colon in 2021. , but it’s under control. I am in good health.”

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