Catholic churches in Nebraska echo Pope Francis’ statement on homosexuality

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Pope Francis is making history as the first pope to speak out against countries that criminalize homosexuality, and Nebraska’s dioceses are following his lead.

As the pope prepares for a trip to Africa, he reaffirmed the church’s stance on homosexuality, saying that it’s a sin but that everyone deserves dignity and respect.

In several African countries, homosexuality is illegal, and in four of those countries, it is punishable by death.

That’s why Pope Francis is making the Catholic Church’s beliefs clear.

“We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each one of us has to fight for our dignity,” he said. “Being homosexual is not a crime. It’s not a crime. ‘Yes, but it’s a sin.’ Well, yes, but let’s make the distinction first between sin and crime. But it’s also a sin to lack charity with one another, so what about that?”

The Rev. Sean Kilcawley, who is a priest in two towns in Otoe County, said the church in Nebraska has been following his lead.

“We have to walk with those people, right?” he said. “Which means entering into their life and meeting them where they are and loving them where they are, and then making a proposal that, ‘There could be more for you.'”

Kilcawley said the local Catholic Church has gone through its curriculum in schools to adjust it to be more focused on being a beloved child of God.

And he said the church is being more proactive by helping parents be prepared for any situation that may come up with their children.

Kristin Grosskopf, the president of the Lincoln chapter of PFLAG, an LGBTQ group, said she feels encouraged to see the statement by the pope.

“We’re happy to see a religious organization express something that is love,” Grosskopf said. “If they’re more willing to embrace people, to me, that means there hopefully will be less harm done as has been done in the past.”

The pope and Kilcawley said the church’s teachings haven’t changed.

They still believe homosexuality is a sin, but they say it’s nothing criminal.

Kilcawley said shifting of culture over time requires the church to shift its focus onto what’s important to the people of the church.

“While the teaching hasn’t changed, I think universally, what we see is a change in method, or a change in attitude or a change in the way that we try to create this space for people to have that encounter,” Kilcawley said. “And hopefully, for people to have that encounter with mercy.”

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