In a documentary released on Wednesday, Pope Francis extolled the virtues of sex, calling it “one of the beautiful things that God has given to man.”
The 86-year-old made the comments during a Disney+ show called Answers to Rome, where he had a date in 2022 with 10 people in their early 20s.
He was asked about a variety of topics, including LGBT rights, abortion, pornography, sex and faith, and sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
“Sex is one of the beautiful things that God gave to man,” he said.
“Sexual self-expression is an asset. So anything that detracts from true sexual expression diminishes you and depletes that richness,” he said, referring to the gesture.
The Pope was also asked if he knew what a “non-binary person” was, and he answered in the affirmative. He repeated that LGBT people should be welcomed by the Catholic Church.
“All men are children of God, all men. God rejects no one, God is a father. And I have no right to expel anyone from the church,” he said.
On abortion, Pope Francis said priests should be “merciful” to women who terminate pregnancies, but said the practice remains unacceptable.
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“It’s good to call things by their names, one should accompany the one who had them [abortion]completely different to justify the act,” he said.
The Pope’s words were published by the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which characterized his conversation with the young people as an “open and sincere dialogue”.