Pope Francis has said that the Roman Catholic Church should apologise for its behaviour towards gay people.
He told reporters while returning to Rome from Armenia on Sunday night (June 26) that the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.
The Pope was asked if he agreed with comments by German Cardinal Reinhard Marx that the Church needed to say sorry for the way it has treated the gay community.
“We Christians have to apologise for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gay people), but we must ask for forgiveness. Not just apologise – forgiveness,” he said.
“The question is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?” the Pope added.
The pontiff also said the Church should seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalised – women, the poor, and children forced into labour.
This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has spoken about the gay and lesbian community. In 2013, he said homosexual acts were sinful but homosexual orientation was not.
His comments come just two weeks after the Orlando massacre at a gay nightclub in which 49 people were killed.
At the time the Holy See condemned the attack as a “homicidal folly and senseless hatred”.
The Pope has been hailed by many in the gay community for his positive attitude towards homosexuals.
But some conservative Catholics have criticised him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.