The gay community has long been marginalized by the Catholic community, German Roman Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx said last week, calling on the church to apologize.
On Sunday, Pope Francis obliged, extending his apologies to all disenfranchised groups for the harm and offense the church may have caused.
"I think that the Church not only should apologize … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons," Francis told reporters on a flight back to Rome from Armenia Sunday.
"We Christians have to apologize for so many things, not just for this (treatment of gays), but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologize! Forgiveness! Lord, it is a word we forget so often!" he said.
Francis has been notably more accepting of homosexuality in his role as the pontiff than past leaders of the Catholic Church. In 2013 he famously stated, "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?" which was even a departure from his own claims prior to becoming the pope (in 2010, Francis opposed gay marriage and adoption).
But on Sunday, Francis repeated his comments from 2013, extending them past himself to say, "Who are we to judge?"
"The questions is: If a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?" Francis said. According to Reuters, Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi clarified that "condition" in Italian translates to "situation," and does not imply a medical "condition."