VATICAN CITY, June 27 (UPI) -- Pope Francis said Christians should apologize to gays and other marginalized groups who have been offended or exploited by the church.
The remarks, made Sunday during a press conference on a flight back from his visit to Armenia, is being seen by some as a potential shift in the Catholic church's approach toward homosexuality.
"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 told reporters.
"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!"
Pope Francis continued, stressing his point.
"I believe that the church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended," he said, "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."
The pope also included other topics as part of his larger theme of asking for forgiveness, NPR reported.
He told reporters that Martin Luther, the German monk who launched the Protestant Reformation, that "His intentions were not wrong. He was a reformer protesting against a church rife with corruption, worldliness and lust for power.
"Ask forgiveness and not just say we're sorry," Francis said. "Forgive us, Lord."