Striking a breathtakingly conciliatory approach to a hot-button issue that has divided Catholics,Pope Francis on Monday said he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will,who am I to judge? Francis said,according to media reports.
His comments came in an unprecedented 80-minute news conference with reporters on his plane returning from a papal visit to Brazil for World Youth Day,in which he spoke openly about everything from the troubled Vatican Bank to the greater role that he believed women should have in the Catholic Church.
His predecessor,Benedict XVI,who retired in February,wrote a Vatican document that said men with homosexual tendencies should not become priests. During his papal trips,Benedict responded only to a handful of preselected questions from reporters.
Reporters on the plane said the pope had been candid and high-spirited and didnt dodge a single question,even thanking the person who asked about reports of a gay lobby inside the Vatican,and about Italian press reports that one of the advisers he had appointed to look into the Vatican Bank had been accused of having gay trysts.
Francis said he had investigated the reports and found them groundless. He added that while such a lobby would be an issue,he did not have anything against gays and that their sins should be forgiven,media reports said. He said while homosexuals should be treated with dignity,using sexual orientation for blackmail or pressure was a different matter.
The pope also told reporters that while Pope John Paul II had definitively closed the door to women priests,Francis sought a theology of women and a greater role for them inside Catholic life,according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Since he became pope in March,Francis has been known for his style of radical simplicity and directness,an approach that seemed to go over well on his first foreign trip. While Benedicts 2006 visit to Brazil was subdued,Francis was greeted like a rock star by throngs of faithful,and more than a million people some reports said as many as three million gathered for an open-air Mass on the Copacabana Beach on Sunday.
Asked about the Vatican Bank,Francis said,Some say its better to have a bank,others say to close it. I trust in the work of the people at the I.O.R. … I cant say how it will end, the Vatican Insider reported. NYT