Pope Francis is doubling down on his call to global faith leaders to condemn same-sex criminalization laws, and some answered

On Sunday, February 5, while airborne from his trip from South Sudan, one of 67 countries that criminalize LGBTQ people, Pope Francis reiterated his stance after recent comments to the Associated Press in which he declared that criminalization laws are “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

“To condemn someone like this is a sin,” Pope Francis said on Sunday. “Criminalizing people with homosexual tendencies is an injustice.” The AP reported that the Pope repeated previous comments that parents should never throw their gay children out of the house, noting they “are children of God. God Loves them. God accompanies them.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, says the pope’s statements are a demonstration of leadership.

"Pope Francis is doubling down to make it clear that laws and actions that persecute, criminalize, or ostracize LGBTQ people are sinful and unjust. He's demonstrating leadership by compelling other faith leaders to join him condemning criminalization laws. This is the moral leadership needed in all facets of society. We need more voices speaking up against the criminalization and persecution of LGBTQ people in the U.S. and around the world,” said Ellis.

The pope was joined by Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Rt. Rev. Iain Greenshields, the Presbyterian moderator of the Church of Scotland, who both shared the pope’s sentiments. 

“I wish I had spoken as eloquently and clearly as the pope. I entirely agree with every word he said,” Welby said. 

Welby not only affirmed the statements of the pope, but said that LGBTQ rights are on the agenda of the churches of England. He also reiterates this message in his Presidential address to General Synod. The archbishop says Catholics must break down hierarchy to achieve unity in the face of difference.

Meanwhile, Greenshields agreed, reflective of the Bible’s teachings.

“There is nowhere in my reading of the four Gospels where I see Jesus turning anyone away,” Greenshields said. “There is nowhere in the four Gospels where I see anything other than Jesus expressing love to whomever he meets.

“And as Christians, that is the only expression that we can possibly give to any human being, in any circumstance.”

The pope’s message revolutionizes reformation within the Vatican and within Catholic Churches throughout the globe for, specifically, lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. Other faith leaders and advocates joined in his sentiment of support. 

“It is a demonic mystery of the human soul why so many men and women have a profound and visceral animus toward members of the LGBT communities,” Robert McElroy, the bishop of San Diego, wrote Tuesday in the Jesuit magazine America. “The church’s primary witness in the face of this bigotry must be one of embrace rather than distance or condemnation.”

A close advisor to the pope and LGBTQ advocate, Juan Carlos, also shared his thoughts. 

“Pope Francis' LGBTQ comments are not surprising but sincere,” said Juan Carlos, advisor to the pope to NPR.

Additionally, activists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are celebrating the pope’s inclusive language. Scaly Kep'na, founder of Jeunialissim in Kinshasa, a youth organization that fights LGBTQ discrimination, told Reuters that the pope’s words are a beautiful.

"These declarations are a step forward for the future of Africa, the future of our country and especially the future of religious discourse in the world," said Scaly Kep'na, founder of Jeunialissim in Kinshasa, a youth organization that fights LGBTQ discrimination.