Pope Francis, on Sunday, reiterated that the church is open to everyone, and that includes the LGBTQ community and all marginalised groups. The Pope made the comments during a 25-minute, in-flight press conference to Rome. He was returning from a five-day trip to Portugal, where he joined in celebrations for World Youth Day, a major Catholic youth festival where more than 1.5 million pilgrims joined the Pope during the final Sunday Mass.
The Pope has, for the last several days, been driving home a message to the youth that the church is open to everyone. The 86-year-old also said that his health was good following surgery for an abdominal hernia in June, Reuters reported. He added that his stitches had been removed, but he had to wear an abdominal band for two or three months until his muscles strengthened.
During his visit to Portugal, the Pope kept reiterating the message that everyone is welcome in the Catholic Church. He also asked young people to repeat after him "todos, todos, todos" ("everyone, everyone, everyone”).
"The church is a mother," he said, adding that he does not like reduction when it comes to discussing who can take part in the life of the church. The Pope also said that while everyone was welcome at the church, but, “there are laws that regulate life inside the church.” Women and people in the gay community could not receive the same sacraments.
While women aren't allowed to become priests, same-sex couples aren't allowed to get married. He also said that not being allowed to take part in certain sacraments doesn't mean the church is closed. During his ten years at the Vatican, the Pope has pushed for various reforms including creating more high-ranking positions in the Vatican for women. He has also supported civil legislation that grants rights to same-sex couples in areas like pensions, health insurance, and inheritance.
While in Portugal, the Pope, on Wednesday, met with 13 survivors of clergy sexual abuse. According to a report released by an independent commission, Catholic clergy members in Portugal had abused more than 4,800 children since 1950.