VATICAN CITY, Feb 7 — Pope Francis said he sees “hypocrisy” in criticism of his decision to allow priests to bless same-sex couples, possibly his most strongly worded defence of the move.

LGBT blessings were authorised last month by a Vatican document called Fiducia Supplicans (Supplicating Trust), but that has met with significant resistance in the Catholic Church, particularly from African bishops.

“Nobody gets scandalised if I give my blessings to a businessman who perhaps exploits people, and this is a very grave sin. But they get scandalised if I give them to a homosexual,” Francis told Italian Catholic magazine Credere.

“This is hypocrisy,” he said.

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Credere released extracts of the interview on Wednesday, a day ahead of publication.

Francis also said he “always” welcomes LGBT people and remarried divorcees to the sacrament of confession, according to another passage published by Vatican media.

“No one should be denied a blessing. Everyone, everyone, everyone” the pontiff said, repeating a three-word slogan he used in August during a Catholic youth festival in Portugal.

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Francis, who famously said “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexuality at the beginning of his papacy, has made it one of his missions to make the Catholic Church more welcoming and less judgmental.

Conservatives say this risks undermining the Church’s moral teachings.

Francis has defended Fiducia Supplicans on several occasions, but acknowledged the pushback against it, saying for example that priests should take into account local sensitivities when giving the blessings.

He also stressed that such blessings do not amount to formal Church approval for same-sex unions.

“When a couple comes forward spontaneously to ask for them, one does not bless the union, but simply the people who together have requested it. Not the union, but the persons,” Francis said on Jan. 26.

The Catholic Church teaches that gay sex is sinful and disordered, and that people with same-sex attractions, which are not considered sinful, should try to be chaste.

In another interview published last week by Italy’s La Stampa daily, Francis said he hoped critics of LGBT blessings would eventually understand them, but that Africans were a “special case” in their opposition to homosexuality.

Bishops in Africa have effectively rejected the Fiducia Supplicans, saying it cannot be applied without causing scandal. The pope and the head of the Vatican’s doctrinal department, Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernandez, have accepted that position.

In some African countries, homosexuality is severely punished, with prison sentences or even the death penalty. — Reuters