Sir Elton John praised Pope Francis for trying to make the Catholic Church “more humble and more human” but urged the Vatican to reinstate gay priest Krzysztof Charamsa, who had held a post for more than a decade before being sacked for revealing his homosexuality.
During an inspiring speech and Q+A session, Sir Elton revealed further details of his plans for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the importance of love in bringing about an end to LGBTQ+ discrimination internationally and the recent move by the Elton John Aids Foundation to give $5m to organisations to combat AIDS in Africa.
Declaring himself a “big fan” of Pope Francis for making the Catholic Church “more humble and more human,” he criticised the previous Pope, Benedict XVI, for being more concerned with his extravagant dress sense than ending discrimination. He continued by asking Francis to “Let your love wash over your priests and all people”, later condemning the Vatican itself as “a hive of backstabbing and intrigue”.
Sir Elton also revealed his plans for his upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying that a dialogue needs to be opened before any progress can be made, intending to bring with him some of the Russian activists who had been fighting for LGTBQ rights. Upon being asked what would constitute a success, he acknowledged that it was unlikely that anything would change as a result of the talks and that he is “not stupid” in what he expects of Putin’s reaction. He also stressed the importance of music and sport in bringing people together regardless of their identities, saying that “if the Russian people can cheer me on a stage, then they can cheer their own gay sons and daughters”.
The evening finished with Union President Charlie Vaughan presenting Sir Elton with an Honorary Membership of the Union and he left to a standing ovation from the audience in the chamber.
Images by Jessica Keating and Greg Gorman