Whether he is apologizing to indigenous people in Mexico, encouraging discussion about climate change, or dropping a hot prog rock album, Pope Francis has helped to create a more progressive image of the Catholic Church since he took over for Pope Benedict XVI in 2013. Now, he's extending that mindset to include one of the most marginalized communities in the Church—the LGBTQ community.
On Sunday, during a flight from Armenia to Rome, Pope Francis told reporters, "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," Reuters reports.
His words echo those of Cardinal advisor German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who said "the history of homosexuals in our societies is very bad, because we've done a lot to marginalize [them]," at a speaking engagement Friday at Trinity College in Dublin, Crux reports. Marx continued, saying that "as Church and society, we have to say 'Sorry, Sorry.'"
The Church generally regards homosexual acts as sinful, and has ostracized many within the LGBTQ community from the faith—but Francis has continually proved to be one of the more liberal popes the Vatican has seen in years.
His statements directed at the LGBTQ community came one week following the worst mass-shooting in American history, which targetted gay patrons at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, and on the same day that major cities around the US held parades to honor Pride month.