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Pope Francis says homosexuality is not a crime in a new interview

Pope Francis attends a Mass for the feast of the Epiphany earlier this month in Vatican City.
Christopher Furlong
Getty Images
Pope Francis attends a Mass for the feast of the Epiphany earlier this month in Vatican City.

In his first interview since the death of former Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis spoke about his health, his critics and the future of the papacy.

He also criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as unjust.

Pope Francis told the Associated Press that, while Catholic teaching holds that homosexual acts are a "sin," being homosexual is not a "crime." He stressed the need to distinguish between the two, and said, for example, that lack of charity with one another is also a sin. He added that the Catholic Church should work to put an end to laws in some countries that criminalize homosexuality.

Asked about his health, the 86-year-old said, "I'm in good health for my age. I'm normal."

A knee ailment has forced the pope to use a wheelchair in recent months.

Asked about the wave of criticism against him from conservative cardinals and bishops following Benedict's death, Francis acknowledged the knives are out, but he appeared unruffled.

He said it's unpleasant, but better than keeping it under wraps.

This story originally appeared in NPR's Newscast.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.