Pope Francis urged for Catholic bishops who support the laws to warmly welcome LGBTQ individuals into the church, calling the laws that outlaw homosexuality "unjust" and stating that God loves all of his children exactly as they are.

"These bishops have to have a process of conversion," he said, adding that they should apply "tenderness, please, as God has for each one of us."

In addition to asking for the elimination of laws that forbid homosexuality, Pope Francis has stated that homosexuality is a sin and that it "is not a crime."

"Yes, but it's a sin," he said. "Fine, but first let's distinguish between a sin and a crime," Francis said during an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

In 2018, Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean survivor of clergy sexual abuse who visited the Vatican in late April, claims that he and Pope Francis spoke about more than just the scandal that has rocked the country's church. Also brought up was Cruz's sexual orientation. He's gay. Cruz claims that the Pope said to him,  “It doesn’t matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this.” The Vatican stated that they "do not generally comment on the Pope's private talks," but they did not confirm or deny the Pope's statements, reports CNN. 

"We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity," he said, adding religious leaders in the church "must" work to end laws discriminating against homosexuals.

There are laws against homosexuality in force in dozens of nations worldwide. According to the Human Dignity Trust, there are laws that forbid private, consensual same-sex conduct in 67 jurisdictions. According to the charity, at least six of these are punishable by death. The option of applying the death penalty to punish homosexuality exists in six additional countries.

On his journey back from his first trip as pope in 2013, Pope Francis told reporters, "We shouldn't marginalize people" because they are gay.

As he traveled back to the Vatican from Brazil, he remarked, "They must be integrated into society.  "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

He urged parents of gay children to provide support rather than "not hide behind an attitude of condemnation"  in Jan. 2021.

In 2008, the Vatican refused to approve a U.N. resolution that advocated for the decriminalization of homosexuality, claiming the document's basic purpose had been exceeded and that it also contained wording about "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" that it considered offensive. The Vatican demanded at the time that nations stop punishing homosexuals and refrain from "unjust discrimination" against them.

pope francis Pope Francis has criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality as "unjust," and said God loves all his children, just as they are. Twitter/@Pontifex