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Pope Francis: ‘Softer tone, not substance’

UK activist Peter Tatchell: 'Vatican anti-gay and anti-women policies will remain intact'

Peter Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation. Credit: Matt Buck

Pope Francis has offered a change of tone in Vatican pronouncements on gay people but not a change in substance, UK activist Peter Tatchell cautions.

"The church’s hardline stance against gay equality and relationships remains intact. It opposes same-sex marriage. The Catechism condemns homosexual love using strident, inflammatory and homophobic language,” says Tatchell, director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Speaking to the media on July 29, Pope Francis gave a "love the sinner, hate the sin" spin to his words.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society," Pope Francis said to reporters aboard the papal aircraft, returning to Rome from South America. 

"At best, his statement is a shift away from old-style vengeful condemnation and punishment towards a more conciliatory and merciful church," Tatchell says. "Although he preaches forgiveness, he still regards homosexuality as a sin for which people must repent. This is only marginal theological progress."

“The pope’s refusal to countenance women priests reiterates the Vatican’s age-old assumption that women are inferior and unfit to be spiritual leaders. It is pure patriarchy and sexism,” Tatchell says.