VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis reaffirmed that homosexuality is not a crime, and that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin, in a written response to a request for clarification about his remarks during a recent interview with the Associated Press.
In an interview with the agency televised and published in Spanish Jan. 25, the pope had said that “being homosexual is not a crime. It is not a crime.” He defined as “unjust” laws that criminalize homosexuality or homosexual activity and urged Church members, including bishops, to show “tenderness” as God does with each of his children.
In the interview the pope said, “We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity. Being homosexual is not a crime. It is not a crime.”
Then, he voiced an objection to that statement, followed by how he would respond to that objection, saying, “‘Yes, but it is a sin.’ Fine, but first let us distinguish between a sin and a crime.”
“It’s also a sin to lack charity with one another,” he added.
U.S. Jesuit Father James Martin, who is editor of Outreach.faith, which provides news and resources for LGBTQ Catholics, wrote to the pope asking him to clarify his statement, which some media outlets had reported as the pope saying being gay is a sin.
Father Martin published the pope’s written reply in Spanish Jan. 27. The pope acknowledged, “In a televised interview, where we spoke with natural and conversational language, it is understandable that there would not be such precise definitions.”
“It is not the first time that I speak of homosexuality and of homosexual persons. And I wanted to clarify that it is not a crime, in order to stress that criminalization is neither good nor just,” the pope wrote.
“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault,” he wrote.
“As you can see, I was repeating something in general. I should have said, ‘It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage,'” he wrote. “This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin.”
“And I would tell whoever wants to criminalize homosexuality that they are wrong,” the pope wrote.