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ReportOUT Public Statement: Our Response to Pope Francis

ReportOUT welcomes and would like to amplify recent statements made by Pope Francis who called the criminalization of homosexuality “unjust”, a marked change from previous messaging from the pontiff.

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP) on the eve of his pending tour of Africa, he was asked about the criminalization of homosexuality on the continent responding that, “Being homosexual isn’t a crime.” He further mused that:

“It’s not a crime. Yes, but it’s a sin. Fine, but first let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime. It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another.”

While the official teaching of the Catholic Church is to be open and welcoming of gay people, the AP reported that the Pope acknowledged that the Church can and must do more to call for decriminalization world-wide. In the same interview, Pope Francis suggests Catholic Bishops have some work to do, “These bishops have to have a process of conversion,” he said, adding that they should apply “tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us.”

While we at ReportOUT fundamentally disagree that homosexuality should have any stigma attached to it – it is neither a sin nor a crime - we welcome the Pope’s statements as important and even critical in the fight for human rights for all LGBTQIA+ people. Some 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide continue to criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity, with 11 nations maintain the death penalty for such behaviour, according to The Human Dignity Trust.

We call on Pope Francis to formalize the sentiments he expressed by making The Vatican a signatory on the United Nations statement on sexuality and gender identity that his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI rejected in 2008.

We ask that Catholic Church leaders use their influence on a coordinated campaign of decriminalization world-wide and to challenge the institutional homophobia that remains pervasive across its congregations.

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