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A look at Pope Francis’ comments about LGBTQ+ people

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis’ apology Tuesday for using a vulgar term to refer to gay men was the latest comment to make headlines about the Catholic Church’s teachings on homosexuality.

Francis has made a hallmark of reaching out to LGBTQ+ Catholics, but his 11-year pontificate has also seen plenty of problems arise over his informal way of speaking and his outreach, evidence of how fraught the issue is for the church.

Officially, the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual people must be treated with dignity and respect, but that homosexual activity is “intrinsically disordered.” It also says that men who “practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture” cannot be ordained.

Here is a look at some of Francis’ most noteworthy comments.

— July 30, 2013. During his first press conference, says “Who am I to judge?” when asked about a purportedly gay priest, signalling a more welcoming approach to LGBTQ+ Catholics.

— May 21, 2018: Tells a gay man “God made you like this and he loves you.”

— Aug. 28, 2018: Vatican deletes from the official, online transcript of an in-flight press conference Francis’ reference that young gay children might seek “psychiatric help.”

— Nov. 2, 2020: Vatican clarifies pope’s endorsement of legal protections for same-sex couples.

— Jan. 24, 2023: Declares in an Associated Press interview that “ Being homosexual is not a crime.”

— Jan. 28, 2023: Clarifies his comments to AP which implied that while homosexual activity was not a crime it is a sin in the eyes of the church. “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.”

— Aug. 24, 2023: During World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, leads a crowd of a half-million young people chanting “todos, todos, todos” (everyone, everyone, everyone) to emphasize that all are welcome in the Catholic Church.

— Oct. 21, 2023: Signs doctrine office document allowing transgender people to be baptized and serve as godparents.

— Dec. 19, 2023: Approves blessings for same-sex couples provided they don’t resemble marriage, sparking fierce opposition from conservative bishops in Africa, Asia and elsewhere.

— March 25, 2024: Approves doctrinal document declaring gender-affirming surgery as a grave violation of human dignity, on par with abortion and euthanasia as practice that rejects God’s plan for life.

— May 20, 2024: Francis reportedly says “ there is already an air of faggotness” in seminaries, in closed-door comments to Italian bishops in reaffirming the church’s ban on gay priests. He later apologized for causing offense.

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AP researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York.

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