Pope Francis’ outspoken support of the LGBT community is once again landing him in the headlines. On Wednesday, the Pope gave a U.S.-based LGBT Christian group, New Ways Ministry, VIP seating at his weekly meeting in St. Peter’s Square, CBS News reports.
The move was yet another step ahead for the Vatican, whose views on homosexuality have garnered the ire of LGBT citizens around the world. Many credit the progress to Pope Francis, who has famously – and boldly – spoken out on behalf of gays and lesbians in a number of instances.
Some of those instances are detailed below.
He vocally supported civil unions
As the Huffington Post reported, in a May, 2014, interview with Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the Pope, although not outwardly supporting gay marriage, did push for the recognition of civil unions, or a similar union that would afford gay couples the same rights as their straight counterparts. In the interview, the pontiff stressed the need to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.”
He publicly acknowledged and empathized with gay priests
Just months after being sworn in as the new Pope, the pontiff ventured where few had gone before: he vocally supported his gay brothers in the priesthood. As reported on the website Diversity Inc., during a July, 2013, flight from Brazil, Pope Francis was asked his opinion on the existence of gay priests. His response was one of the first confirmations the LGBT community received that he was on their side.
“If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized,” Pope Francis told an Italian reporter when asked to comment on the reality of gay men in the priesthood. “The tendency is not the problem. They’re our brothers.”
If that wasn’t enough, the Vatican qualified the Pope’s comments as not only applying to gay priests, but to all LGBT citizens.
He urged compassion and acceptance of LGBT people
In a now-historic statement that foreshadowed a brighter future for gays and lesbians everywhere, the Pope expressly voiced his creed of universal love and acceptance for all. As detailed in the Christian Post, the Pope, in a September, 2013, interview, called on the church to love and accept gays and lesbians, insisting they “must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity.” His comments are a stark contrast to the catechism’s former condemnation of gay and lesbian tendencies.
He supported parents of LGBT folks
As the International Business Times reported, in a recent interview, Pope Francis pushed for more understanding and support for parents of gay children.
“We come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter,” he told Argentina’s La Nación.
In the short time since his 2013 confirmation, Pope Francis has not only spoken out against the persecution of a sensitive minority, but he has taken the bold step of exposing this persecution at the hands of the institution he represents. Though not without imperfection (the pontiff was criticized earlier this week over his comments linking nuclear warfare to teaching the gender theory, VOX reports), Pope Francis is living, breathing proof, that it really does get better.