Pope Francis meets the journalists during an airborne press conference aboard the airplane directed to Rome, at the end of his pastoral visit to Congo and South Sudan, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023. Source: Tiziana Fabi/Pool Photo Via AP

Watch: Pope Denounces the Criminalization of Homosexuality


Pope Francis, the head of the Anglican Communion and top Presbyterian minister together denounced the criminalization of homosexuality on Sunday and said gay people should be welcomed by their churches.

The three Christian leaders spoke out on LGBTQ rights during an unprecedented joint airborne news conference returning home from South Sudan, where they took part in a three-day ecumenical pilgrimage to try to nudge the young country's peace process forward.

They were asked about Francis' recent comments to The Associated Press, in which he declared that laws that criminalize gay people were "unjust" and that "being homosexual is not a crime."

South Sudan is one of 67 countries that criminalizes homosexuality, 11 of them with the death penalty. LGBTQ advocates say even where such laws are not applied, they contribute to a climate of harassment, discrimination and violence.

Francis referred his Jan. 24 comments to the AP and repeated that such laws are "unjust." He also repeated previous comments that parents should never throw their gay children out of the house.

"People with homosexual tendencies are children of God," he said.

Francis also said he is always ready to meet with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine.

He said that he had not yet visited Kyiv only because it was not possible at that time to then visit Moscow.

He recalled his visit to the Russian embassy in the Vatican immediately after the beginning of the war.

Francis also condemned the global arms trade, describing it as the world's "greatest plague."

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