“Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” he reiterated in the interview.
He added that Catholic Bishops in the various countries whose cultures are in conflict with homosexuality need “a process of conversion” to allow LGBTQ people to be treated with “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”
In March 2021, the Vatican decreed that the Catholic Church deems same-sex marriages sinful and cannot bless them.
The decree came after Pope Francis said in an interview with a Mexican television station, Televisa in 2019 that gay couples in same-sex unions should be provided with legal protections just as heterosexual ones.
The Vatican’s orthodoxy office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a formal response to a question about whether Catholic clergy can bless gay unions.
The answer, contained in a two-page explanation published in seven languages and approved by Pope Francis, was “negative”.
According to the decree, the church welcomes gay people on humanitarian grounds but does not endorse their unions because it is at variance with God’s plan.
The Vatican held that gay people must be treated with dignity and respect, but that gay sex is “intrinsically disordered”. Catholic teaching says that marriage between a man and woman is part of God’s plan and is intended for the sake of creating new life, so anything which goes contrary to that is unacceptable by the church.
“The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan,” the response said.
It added that God “does not and cannot bless sin: He blesses sinful man, so that he may recognise that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him”.
Homosexuality and its concomitant same-sex marriage, although accepted fully in some parts of the western world, remain a thorny issue in parts of Africa, with some countries outlawing it completely.