Pope Francis caused a bit of a stir recently when he reportedly made a reference to a “gay lobby” that exists inside the Vatican during a private meeting with the leaders of a Latin American religious group. Coverage of the comment in the press and in social media underscored the sensitivities that persist among Catholics on issues related to homosexuality.
While the Catholic Church officially maintains that homosexual relations are sinful, many Catholics in the U.S. have a more accepting view. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics (71%) say homosexuality should be accepted by society. Just a third (33%) say they believe homosexual behavior is a sin, down from nearly half who said this in 2003. However, fully half (54%) of American Catholics say there is at least some conflict between their personal religious beliefs and homosexuality, with 42% saying there is “a lot” of conflict.
The conflict over religion and homosexuality spills over into the views of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population toward the Catholic Church. A recent Pew Research survey of the LGBT community found that nearly eight-in-ten LGBT adults (79%) perceive the Catholic Church as unfriendly toward them, 16% say it is neutral and just 4% say it is friendly.
Among LGBT Catholics in particular, two-thirds (66%) say the church is unfriendly toward them, while 26% say it is neutral and just 6% see it as friendly. LGBT Protestants and those who are religiously unaffiliated are more negative in their perceptions of the Catholic Church, with 74% of the Protestants and 84% of the unaffiliated saying the Catholic Church is unfriendly toward them.