ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) - Pope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they had treated them.
Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia, he also said the Church should ask forgiveness for the way it has treated women, for turning a blind eye to child labor and for "blessing so many weapons" in the past.
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In the hour-long freewheeling conversation that has become a trademark of his international travels, Francis was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologize to gays.
Francis looked sad when the reporter asked if an apology was made more urgent by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida this month.
He recalled Church teachings that homosexuals "should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally."
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He added: "I think that the Church not only should apologize ... to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons."
I also apologize to Muslims for the Crusades, the meat industry for the whole abstinence thing, and dogs and cats for their lack of a soul.