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HRC says Pope Francis sets ‘reset button’ on LGBT issues

The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group says that Pope Francis’ recent remarks about LGBT people and homosexuality make clear the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is promoting tolerance and pressing “the reset button” on the church’s treatment of LGBT people.

The pope previously said “if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge.”

More recently, in an interview, the pope said, "A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person."

He also said the campaigns against reproductive rights and marriage equality harm the church: “We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

Responding, HRC president Chad Griffin said, “With these latest comments, Pope Francis has pressed the reset button on the Roman Catholic Church’s treatment of LGBT people, rolling back a years-long campaign at the highest levels of the Church to oppose any measure of dignity or equality.”

Griffin continued, “Now, it’s time for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to catch up and drop their opposition to even the most basic protections for LGBT people. Otherwise, they risk being left far behind by American Catholics and this remarkable pope.”

Polls show that a majority of Catholics in the United States support LGBT equality, but the U.S. church hierarchy has invested repeatedly in campaigns against equality, specifically efforts to pass anti-gay marriage amendments and oppose marriage equality laws.

“At a moment when Pope Francis is re-dedicating the church to tirelessly helping the poor, it’s unacceptable for American bishops to continue wasting millions of parishioner dollars on harmful anti-LGBT political campaigns that target members of their own flock,” Griffin said. “For the sake of LGBT Catholics, It’s essential that Pope Francis’ inspiring words lead to transformative change throughout the church hierarchy.”

Said Wilson Cruz of GLAAD: "Pope Francis today opened the door for LGBT people like me, who grow up in the Catholic Church, to be embraced, rather than condemned from afar. Though a growing number of Catholics already support gay and lesbian individuals, this is the first time that a pope has recognized the harm that the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s campaigns against LGBT people and families have caused. We urge bishops, cardinals and church leadership to listen to today’s message from Pope Francis and join him in putting an end to the rejection and pain that too many LGBT Catholics and our families face."

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