The archbishop said the Church was calling on gay and lesbian believers to embrace holiness
Archbishop and president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, Socrates Villegas, was asked a question whether Pope Francis condemned members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual (LGBT) community and the alleged response he gave shocked the crowd.
“Being a homosexual is not a sin. It is a state of a person, ” archbishop Villegas reportedly answered.
Villegas, speaking during the Inquirer Conversations forum hosted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday, said the church had echoed time and again that Jesus Christ died for all people.
“The Pope says ‘The Lord came to die for all, homosexuals and lesbians included.’ There is no one excluded from the saving plan of God,” Villegas said in the forum held at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center of the University of Santo Tomas.
The archbishop said the Church was calling on gay and lesbian believers to embrace holiness.
“God died for them also. God invites gays and the lesbians to go beyond their present situation and love Jesus,” he added.
The subject of homosexuality in the church became a controversial topic brought up during the Synod of the Families held in the Vatican last October.
In an initial report of the synod, it was hinted that the Catholic Church would “welcome” gay believers as they have “gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community.”
However, the welcoming tone on gays was thumbed down at the synod’s final report which said gay people should be “welcomed with respect and sensitivity.”
The decision is said to reflect the clash between conservative bishops of the Church and the attempt of Pope Francis to make the Church open to gay people.