The head of the Catholic Church in the Philippines has publicly announced that “being a homosexual is not a sin” and that gay or lesbian, no one is excluded from God’s saving plan.
“Being a homosexual is not a sin. It is a state of a person,” said Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines during the Inquirer Conversations forum hosted by the Philippine Daily Inquirer at the Thomas Aquinas Research Center of the University of Santo Tomas on Jan 12.
Jesus Christ “came to die for all, homosexuals and lesbians included. There is no one excluded from the saving plan of God,” said the archbishop who currently heads the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
“God died for them also. God invites gays and the lesbians to go beyond their present situation and love Jesus,” he said adding that the Church was calling on gay and lesbian believers to embrace holiness.
His comments come despite the Philippines being a Catholic country with over 80 percent of its 97 million people belonging to that religion and where the Catholic Church which has a great say in the political and social affairs of the Philippines has in line with its teaching been active in opposing any civil rights legislation for the LGBT community.
Archbishop Villegas’ comments however are in line with his superior Pope Francis who as head of the worldwide Catholic Church ruffled the feathers of some conservative Catholics by refusing to condemn gay people long considered sinful by his Church.
“If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge” he had said within months of being elected pope in 2013. The pope is noted for making the Catholic Church open to gay people even though according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered” and “under no circumstances can they be approved.
”Pope Francis, who is currently in Sri Lanka at the start of a weeklong Asian tour, is due to visit the Philippines Jan 15-19.
The Advocate, a prominent LGBT and gay rights magazine, described Pope Francis as the “single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of LGBT people” despite the Church’s longstanding conflict with the LGBT community.