Pope Francis says that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they have treated them.
Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia, he also said the Church should ask forgiveness for the way it has treated women, for turning a blind eye to child labour and for “blessing so many weapons” in the past.
In the hour-long freewheeling conversation that has become a trademark of his international travels, Francis was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologise to gays.
Francis looked sad when the reporter asked if an apology was made more urgent by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida this month.
He recalled Church teachings that homosexuals “should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.” The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are and that homosexuals should try to be chaste.
Francis repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge” comment he made about gays on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013.
“The questions is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the pope, by saying “has that condition” did not imply a medical condition but “a person in that situation”.
In other parts of the conversation, Francis said he hoped the European Union would be able to give itself another form after the United Kingdom’s decision to leave.