Pope Francis (Pic: Jeffrey Bruno)
Pope Francis has criticised those who oppose the Vatican’s decision to allow priests to bless Catholics in same-sex relationships.
The pontiff has faced opposition from conservative members of the church, including African bishops, for his efforts to make the church more welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals.
Most recently, he sparked controversy by approving limited blessings by priests for individuals in same-sex relationships, a move previously considered unthinkable.
Responding to his critics in a new interview with Italian Catholic magazine Credere, Pope Francis offered his strongest defense yet of the decision.
“No one is scandalised if I give my blessings to a businessman who perhaps exploits people, and this is a very grave sin. But they get scandalised if I give them to a homosexual,” he stated.
“This is hypocrisy,” he asserted, emphasising, “We all have to respect each other. Everyone!”
In January, the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa & Madagascar (SECAM), representing African Catholic bishops, issued a letter rejecting any acceptance of homosexuality or same-sex unions.
Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, the Archbishop of Kinshasa and President of SECAM, cited biblical condemnations of homosexuality, insisting that it is especially unacceptable in Africa.
In November, the Vatican also confirmed that transgender individuals, including those who have undergone medical transitions, can be baptised as Catholics and are eligible to serve as godparents and witnesses.
Pope Francis famously said in 2013: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”
However, despite these positive developments, official Catholic doctrine continues to define same-sex intimacy as “[acts] of grave depravity,” “intrinsically disordered,” and “contrary to the natural law.”