Pope Francis has asked the Roman Catholic Church to apologize to gays for the way they are being treated, saying they deserve to be respected.
The pontiff said the Church had no right to judge homosexuals and should not be discriminated against.
The Pope, who spoke to reporters on his plane on his way from Armenia, also demanded the Church to seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalized, including women, the poor, and children forced into labour.
BBC reports that the Pope has been hailed by many in the gay community for his positive attitude towards homosexuals while some conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they described as ambiguous about sexual morality.
Pope said, “I will repeat what the catechism of the (Roman Catholic) Church says, that they (homosexuals) should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.
“I think that the (Roman Catholic) Church not only should apologize to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”
In 2013, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he had said.
Meanwhile the Anglican Communion Church of Nigeria and the Redeemed Christian Church of God have condemned the Pope’s tacit support for homosexuality, saying his call for apology was unfounded.
The Anglican Bishop of Remo, Rt. Rev. Michael Fape, said Pope’s call contradicted the Biblical stand on homosexuality and urged that the act should not be explained away in the guise of human rights.
He said, “Homosexuality is a biblical issue and it is abominable. It is one of the sins that God clearly enjoins children of Israel not to indulge in. So if anybody is into homosexuality, such a person is doing what is ungodly, non biblical and what is against the mind of God.
“Pope as a Roman Catholic has a right to his opinion. The fact that somebody is a Pope does not make him God. God is the only one who is infallible on this issue. He is not saying the minds of those who are orthodox Christians and that does not make his stand the God standard. There is no word that one can use to describe it in the guise of human rights. What is wrong is wrong.”
“Whatever is good (as punishment) for an adulterer, for a robber, a sorcerer, or a murderer is good for a homosexual. They are all in the same pedestal. God specifically says that a homosexual should be removed from the camp of those who are children of God. The punishment for homosexuals as far as the Anglican Church is concerned is having nothing to do with them by means of fellowship. If they repent, they should come back to the fellowship and confess that they have erred.”
The Head of Media and Public Relations of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Segun Adegbiji, urged Christians to discard the Pope’s comments, saying the position of God should prevail whenever there were disagreements on scriptural issues.
“The RCCG is on the side of the Bible. Whatever the Bible wants the children of God to do is what we do. Anything that is ungodly and non scriptural, the RCCG will never support it. The apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ said when there is confrontational or conflict between what somebody in power is saying and what the Lord is saying, you go on the side of the Lord. We are not on the side of any apology,” Adegbiji said.