The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, on Monday reacted to comments by Pope Francis that gays and other marginalized groups deserve an apology from the Roman Catholic Church.

Francis was asked Sunday whether he agrees with the German Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who said after the Orlando shooting that the Church owes an apology to the LGBT community.

“I believe that the Church not only should apologize to the person who is gay whom it has offended,” Francis told reporters, “but has to apologize to the poor, the exploited women, to children exploited for labor; it has to ask forgiveness for having blessed many weapons.”

HRC applauded the pope's comments.

“Pope Francis’ words are a welcome step toward bringing LGBTQ Catholics closer into the Church and healing the wounds of those who have felt pushed away from their Church and its teachings,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Training. “Pope Francis’ message of inclusion and love for all people continues to bring Catholic leadership more in line with the large majority of American Catholics who believe in full equality for their LGBTQ family-members, friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners. The vast majority of American Catholics say no to hatred and no to discrimination.”

Pope Francis continued to say that he believes Christians in general should apologize.

“The Church must say it is sorry for not having behaved as it should many times, many times – when I say 'the Church,' I mean we Christians, because the Church is holy; we are the sinners. We Christians must say we are sorry,” he said.