Pope Francis said Monday that 'sins of the flesh' were not the most serious of sins in reference to having sex outside of marriage.
Francis's remarks come amid controversy regarding a Paris archbishop who resigned after having a relationship with a woman. Archbishop Michel Aupetit, 70, denied that the relationship was sexual in nature, however. If it was, it would have broken his vow of celibacy, Reuters reported.
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“Sins of the flesh are not the most serious," Francis told reporters of the scandal as he returned on a plane to Rome. "It was a failing against the Sixth Commandment but not a total one, one of small caresses, massage given to his secretary. That is what the accusation is, ... There is a sin there but not the worst kind."
"He was condemned but by whom? By public opinion, by gossip ... he could no longer govern," Francis continued, reminding those present that everyone is a sinner, including himself. "I accepted the resignation of Aupetit not on the altar of truth but on the altar of hypocrisy."
Francis added that he did not yet have all the details of the case but expects to hear more from French clergy when they meet.
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Aupetit gave an apology for his apparent transgression in a statement Thursday.
“I ask forgiveness from those I might have hurt,” he said. “I have been deeply troubled by the attacks on me. … I pray for those who, maybe, have wished bad things onto me, as Christ has taught us.”