Francis first uttered that rhetorical question — Who am I to judge gay people? — in 2013, also during a news conference on the papal plane. His comments were hailed as a breakthrough for a church that has historically condemned homosexuality, often in harsh terms. Francis has not changed church doctrine that calls homosexual acts sinful, but he has shown a more merciful approach to people on the margins, including gays and lesbians.
Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, a Catholic gay rights group, called the Pope’s remarks “an immense blessing of healing.”
“No pope has said more welcoming words to LGBT people than when Pope Francis today offered his recommendation that the Church — indeed all Christians — should apologize for the harm religious traditions have caused to LGBT people. The pope’s statement was simple, yet powerful, and it fell from his lips so easily.”
As is often the case, the Pope’s press conference encompassed a number of controversial questions. Here are the Pope’s answers 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.”
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