But if Francis means that the Roman Catholic Church as an institution owes gays an apology — well, that raises some unsettling issues.

For one thing, the church’s official teaching is that when homosexual desires are acted upon, they are always and everywhere gravely immoral, innately sinful, and “objectively disordered.” (Natural law holds that the only objectively ordered act of sexual intercourse is a procreative act between a man and woman bonded in marriage.)

Not only does this mean that the church cannot bless same-sex marriages. It also means that no act of homosexual intercourse is ever acceptable. In order to conform to church teaching, a gay man or woman must embrace celibacy — meaning, he or she must forever renounce any hope of sexual fulfillment or companionship. Because, once again, acting on homosexual desires is always and everywhere gravely immoral, innately sinful, and “objectively disordered.”

Pope Francis’ suggestion of an apology to gays raises the question of whether he thinks it would be possible for the church to make such an expression of contrition while continuing to affirm and teach this view of homosexuality. I’m just going to go out on a limb and speculate that such an apology would not be especially well received in the gay community.