ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — Pope Francis on Sunday said the Catholic Church should apologize to gay people and others who have been offended or exploited in the past.
“I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” the Pope said, “but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”
The comments came during a news conference aboard the papal plane, as Francis was returning from a trip to Armenia. Francis was responding to a question about a comment reported by the Irish Times on Friday that German Cardinal Reinhard Marx said the Catholic Church should apologize for being “very negative” about gays.
Repeating the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about respecting and not discriminating against gays, Pope Francis said that one could condemn certain behavior.
“One can condemn,” Francis said, “but not for ideological reasons, but for let’s say, political behavior, like certain protests that are too offensive to others and that are not related to the problem.”
But the Pope admitted that there are “some traditions and cultures that have a different mentality” and he repeated, his now-famous comments: “Who are we to judge?” if a gay person is of good will and searches for God.
Francis first uttered that rhetorical question in 2013, also during a news conference on the papal plane.
Here are the Pope’s answers to questions about Brexit, former Pope Benedict XVI and why he used the word “genocide” to describe the murder of more than 1 million Armenians in the early 20th century.
“For me, unity is always superior to conflict, but there are different forms of unity and also brotherhood. and here I come to the EU — brotherhood is better than enmity or distance and bridges are better than walls.
“The step which the EU has to take to recover the strength of its roots is a step of creativity and healthy ‘separation;’ that is, to give more independence, more freedom to the countries of the EU, to think of another form of union, to be creative in jobs, in the economy…”
“There is something that is not working in that unwieldy union, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, let’s try to jump-start things, to recreate .. today the two key words for the EU are creativity and fecundity.”
Pope Francis said that while Turkey has, “a right to protest,” he has always used the word genocide, since his time in Argentina, and again last year quoting John Paul II so “it would have sounded very strange,” he said, not to use it again.
“In Argentina, when you spoke about the extermination of Armenians, one always used the word genocide. I did not know another word … When I came to Rome, I heard the other words, ‘The Great Evil’ and the Armenian term which I do not know how to say, and they told me that … using ‘genocide’ is offensive, that you have to say something else. I have also spoken about three genocides of the last century, always three, first the Armenian, then Hitler, and the last one is Stalin.”
“After I heard the tone of the President’s speech and also with my past with this word, which I uttered last year in St. Peter’s publicly, it would have sounded very strange not to say the same word.”
In response to a question about whether there are two Popes in the Vatican, a story which had received headlines recently because of a comment by Pope Benedict’s personal secretary who said that the Pope Emeritus was part of an “expanded papacy,” Francis said, “There is only one Pope.”
“[Benedict] is the Pope Emeritus, the wise grandpa. He is the man who guards my back with his prayers.”