Pope says Church open to LGBTQ+ people but ‘there are laws’

Pope Francis

The Pope has said the Catholic Church is open to all, including LGBTQ+ people, but said there are rules that must be followed.

Speaking with reporters on Sunday (6 August) during a return flight from Lisbon to Rome following the World Youth Day Catholic festival, 86-year-old Pope Francis was quizzed on whether the Church is truly open to everyone. 

During the festival, the pontiff had said the Church was open to “everyone, everyone, everyone”, a message queried by a reporter as possibly “incoherent” as women and gay people are barred from certain sacraments. 

Women are not allowed to become priests and same-sex couples are not permitted to marry in the Catholic Church.

“The Church is open to everyone but there are laws that regulate life inside the Church,” the Pope stated. 

“According to the legislation, they cannot partake in (some) sacraments. 

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“This does not mean that it is closed. Each person encounters God in their own way inside the Church,” he continued. 

According to Reuters, Pope Francis added that ministers in the Church must accompany all people – including those not conforming to the rules of the religious organisation – with the patience and love of a “mother”.

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Pope has colourful history with LGBTQ+ community

In his 10 years as leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has sought to move the institution forward and create a more welcoming environment for groups traditionally excluded, particularly LGBTQ+ people.

He has made reaching out to the LGBTQ+ community a key tenet of his papacy. 

However, the pontiff has had to strike a fine balance by appeasing both liberal and conservative members of the Church and not rocking the boat too much. 

In 2013, the Pope famously said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Later on, in 2020, he urged parents of LGBT+ children to love them as they are “because they are children of God”. 

More recently, he encouraged Catholics to build a church which “that excludes no one” and said homosexuality should not be a crime – although he also said that under Catholic teachings it is still considered a “sin”.

The head of the Catholic Church made headlines around the world in January after he blasted laws criminalising homosexuality. 

He said that “criminalisation is neither good nor just” but like “every sexual act outside of marriage”, same-sex acts are also considered a “sin”.

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