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Pope Francis says laws criminalizing homosexuality are 'unjust.' What's the impact?

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Pope Francis

Pope Francis recently called for the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world, saying the Catholic Church should work to put an end to anti-LGBTQ laws. What could that mean for the Catholic Church's relationship with the LGBTQ community?

Pope Francis declared in an interview earlier this week that being homosexual isn't a "crime," and called laws that criminalize members of the LGBTQ community "unjust." While the Pope made it clear he still views homosexuality as a sin, his comments are a first in the history of the papacy.

Christopher White, who reports on the Vatican for the National Catholic Reporter, told KCUR's Up To Date that this is a historic moment for the relationship between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ community.

"What we've seen in the last 10 years of Pope Francis' papacy is no major doctrinal changes in how the church views gay relations, but a much more welcoming stance when it comes to the pastoral directions of this papacy compared to his most recent predecessors," says White.

While the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph both declined to discuss this topic on Up To Date, the latter provided a statement from Bishop James Johnston:

"Based on what has been quoted in the Associated Press article, it appears that Pope Francis has clearly reiterated the teaching of the Catholic Church as referenced in the Catechism, calling for acceptance with respect, compassion and sensitivity toward those who experience same-sex attraction, while also being clear that homosexual acts are a sin," the statement reads. "There is a distinction between something being a sin and a crime. Those experiencing same sex attraction deserve to participate in parish life and ministry, while receiving pastoral support in the form of spiritual guidance, community prayer support, fellowship and the assistance of God’s grace.

"Being compassionate, sensitive, and merciful, while staying faithful to moral teachings of the Christian faith are not mutually exclusive. Same sex attraction is not a sin. Men and women experiencing same sex attraction have a place in our Catholic faith where they can be inspired by the Gospel call to holiness and the Catholic Church’s beautiful teachings of the goodness and inherent purpose of human sexuality."

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