Gay Catholic groups urged Pope Francis on Monday, June 27 to do more than just acknowledge that Christians must apologize to the gays they marginalized.
The executive director of Dignity USA, a leading organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, praised the Vatican pope for his statement but demanded more from him.
"For a pope to acknowledge that the church has done so much damage to gay people, and that we deserve an apology, is an unprecedented act of humility," Marianne Duddy-Burke told New York Times in a phone interview.
Duddy-Burke added, "But a statement of remorse is only as good as the change in behavior that follows."
The night before, the Argentine pope spoke with reporters at a press conference during his papal flight back to Rome from Armenia. He said there are many things the church has to be sorry for, including its mistreatment of the homosexuals.
"I believe that the church not only must say it's sorry ... to this person that is gay that it has offended," National Catholic Reporter quoted the pope as saying.
Francis clarified that when he said "church," he meant the "Christians" because it is the Christians who are "sinners" while "the church is holy."
One of the pontiff's own advisers, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, told a conference in Trinity College Dublin a week earlier that the Catholic Church is guilty for marginalizing the homosexuals and that the church and society owe them an apology.
The co-executive director of another Catholic group, Call to Action, also expressed the same sentiments as Duddy-Burke's. In a statement, Ryan Hoffman reiterated that Francis needs to turn his words into "just action."
"We need the church to understand the reality of our lives," said Duddy-Burke as she pointed out incidents in the U.S. where Catholic schools fired gay employees who married in civil courts. She added that "church teaching and practice has caused so much trouble."