Pope Francis has signalled a shift in the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality in the clergy and potentially opened the door for a new era of reconciliation by saying he would not “judge” gay priests.
In an ad-hoc press conference on board a flight returning to Rome from his visit to Brazil, the pontiff told reporters that gay priests should not be “marginalised”.
“If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?” he said, according to Time. “They shouldn’t be marginalized.”
Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, decreed eight years ago that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should not be allowed into the priesthood. It is being seen by Vatican watchers not as a change in policy but a change in style and emphasis, signalling that celibate gay priests could be welcome in the clergy. As the Wall St Journal reported:
Pope Francis reaffirmed church teaching by referring to homosexual acts as a “sin.” But he wielded his formidable bully pulpit to shift the tone of how the Roman Catholic Church regards homosexuality at its highest ranks.
The Pope reaffirmed the Church’s position that women could not be ordained priests, but the reaction from the rest of the church hierarchy will be watched closely around the world.
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