In time, Pope Francis has expressed his opinion on the LGBT+ community on several occasions. For instance, in an interview where he was asked about gay priests, he said "If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them?". In 2015, he also had several meetings with LGBT+ people and groups, among which was a transgender man from Spain, Diego Neria Lejarraga, who had been excluded from his parish community. Pope Francis reportedly told him "You are a son of God and the Church loves you and accepts you as you are." Similarly, when he met with a gay survivor of clergy sexual abuse, he said “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”.
Judging by these quotes, we could say that Pope Francis is inclusive when it comes to LGBT+ members, but is the church inclusive as well?
The Spanish Catholic Church’s courses of “gay conversion”
A diocese close to Madrid is currently under investigation, as it was said to run courses where gay men could finally be “cured”. The diocese declared this news as false on its website, yet an undercover reporter from El Diario talked about how he attended one of these sessions, where he received advice on how to “stop” being homosexual.
The Spanish Health Minister declared, however, that the Catholic Church could suffer legal consequences when it comes to these “conversion courses”. This reaction is, to say the least, understandable – first of all, this practice is banned in Madrid, and second of all, it’s hard to believe that these things never happened, given the fact that the diocese’s website recommends books such as "How to Prevent Homosexuality: children and gender confusion".
Pentecostalism and homosexuality
Most churches within the Pentecostal Movement see homosexuality as a sin. The Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination which was declared to be the second largest in the U.S.A. in 2011, is openly against gay pastors, same-sex unions and homosexual practices in general.
Similarly, Jehova’s Witnesses see homosexuality as a sin, but aren’t as harsh regarding it. They usually avoid such debates and their literature has stated that Christians shouldn’t hate homosexuals, making them the target of ridicule.
Inclusion is needed
The LGBT+ community may have stopped being disregarded among the younger generations, but there’s still a long way to go. Even though there are representatives of churches who militate for human rights, there still exists discrimination towards LGBT+ members, especially within religious communities.
Also taking into consideration that same-sex sexual abuse within the church is a common practice even in today’s world, we must ask ourselves – how else but through perseverance can we overcome these obstacles?