During a press conference aboard the papal plane en route from Armenia, Pope Francis called for an apology to gay people and other groups marginalized or offended by the church. Which, if we're being honest, is a lot of people.
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After the Pulse massacre in Orlando on June 12--which killed 49 people many from the LGBT community--German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a closer adviser to His Holiness, said gay people deserved an apology from the Catholic Church. Pope Francis was asked if he agreed.
"I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended," Francis 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."
Marx had previously said at a conference in Dublin that the church must apologize for consistently marginalizing gay people for...well, ever.
"The church must say it is sorry for not having behaved as it should many times, many times--when I say 'the church,' I mean we Christians, because the church is holy; we are the sinners," the pope said. "We Christians must say we are sorry."
Nothing like a "sorryboutit" to really make amends for all those centuries of persecution, but at least we can consider this a step in the right direction. Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large fo the Catholic mag America, called the Pope's comments "a groundbreaking moment."
"While St. John Paul II apologized to several groups in 2000--the Jewish people, indigenous peoples, immigrants and women, among them--no pope has ever come close to apologizing to the LGBT community," Martin told CNN. "And the Pope is correct of course. First, because forgiveness is an essential part of the Christian life. And second, because no group feels more marginalized in the church today than LGBT people."
While Francis has certainly been more tolerant towards gay people than his predecessors, he still maintains negative views on marriage equality and transgender issues. But considering it took the Catholic Church 2,000 years to come around to the whole "gay" thing, progress is probably going to be slow.