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Church should ask forgiveness from gay people for past treatment, says Pope Francis

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Pope Francis has said Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gay people.

He made the comments while speaking to reporters aboard a plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia on Sunday.

He also said the Church should ask forgiveness for the way it had treated women, for turning a blind eye to child labour, and for “blessing so many weapons” in the past.

He told reporters on the plane: “There are traditions in some countries, some cultures,  that have a different mentality about this question [homosexuals]” and there are “some [gay] demonstrations that are too offensive for some”.

In the hour-long freewheeling conversation that has become a trademark of his international travels, Pope Francis was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologise to gay people.

The Pope looked sad when the reporter asked if an apology was made more urgent by the killing of 49 people at a gay club in Orlando, Florida this month.

Pope Francis recalled Church teachings, saying: “[Homosexuals] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.

The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are, and that homosexuals should try to be chaste.

Pope Francis repeated a slightly modified version of the now-famous “Who am I to judge?” comment he made about homosexual people on the first foreign trip after his election in 2013.

“The question is: if a person who has that condition, who has good will, and who looks for God, who are we to judge?” he said.

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Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope, by saying “has that condition”, did not imply a medical condition but “a person in that situation”. In Italian, the word “condition” can also mean “situation”.

“We Christians have to apologise for so many things, not just for this [treatment of gay people] — but we must ask for forgiveness, not just apologise! Forgiveness! Lord, it is a word we forget so often!” he said.

Pope Francis has been hailed by many in the gay community for being the most merciful pope towards them in recent history, and conservative Catholics have criticised him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.

Reuters

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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