Jan 25, 2023 - World

Pope Francis calls laws criminalizing homosexuality "unjust"

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus blessing from the window of his private studio to pilgrims in Saint Peter's Square on January 06, 2023 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Pope Francis delivers a blessing from his private studio to pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City, Vatican, on Jan. 6. Photo: Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis in an interview with AP published Wednesday called laws that criminalize homosexuality "unjust."

Why it matters: The pope's remarks build on his earlier expressions of support for the LGBTQ community, which has traditionally been marginalized by the church.

What he's saying: "Being homosexual is not a crime ... but it's a sin," the pope told AP.

  • "Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime. It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another."

The big picture: While the pope hasn't distanced himself from Catholic teachings that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered," he has in recent years displayed outreach to LGBTQ people — notably when he expressed support for the first time for same-sex civil unions during a 2020 documentary.

  • Francis last year called on parents not to condemn their children if they're gay and a Jesuit priest who ministers to LGBTQ Catholics shared a letter from the pope in June 2021 praising his work.

Yes, but: In March of that year, the Vatican in a decree approved by the pope said Catholic priests cannot bless such unions because God "does not and cannot bless sin."

Go deeper: Pope Francis says homosexuality in the clergy "worries" him

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details throughout.

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