“I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally,” Francis said at a press conference aboard the papal plane returning from Armenia.

“The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!”

As he often does during unscripted moments — particularly papal news conferences — the Pope spoke expansively, saying the church should seek forgiveness for a number of historical slights committed in its name.

“I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” he added, “but has to apologize to the poor, to exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”