Pope Francis has called on Christians to apologise to gay people over past discrimination.
The pontiff said homosexuals should be “respected”, adding an apology was owed for the way they have been treated.
The apology should be extended to women, the poor and children who have been exploited, he added.
The Catholic Church leader made the comments to reporters while flying back from an official visit to Armenia.
He said: “I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they [homosexuals] should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.
“I think that the Church not only should apologise to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work.
“It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons.”
Pope Francis has urged for greater tolerance of the gay community which has resulted in criticism by conservative Roman Catholics.“The Church must say it is sorry for not having behaved as it should many times, many times – when I say ‘the Church,’ I mean we Christians because the Church is holy; we are the sinners.”
In 2013, he said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"
However, the pontiff has maintained that while being gay is not wrong, the performance of homosexual acts is “sinful”