Pope Francis is currently on a seven-day tour of Brazil, where he gave a surprise interview with reporters on the papal plane that is sure to cause a stir.
Asked by a reporter about the Vatican’s so-called “gay lobby”, Francis reportedly said that he sees no problem with homosexual priests themselves. “Who am I to judge them if they’re seeking the Lord in good faith,” he told the reporters, according to John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.
It’s a major statement from a religion that has long refused to discuss homosexuality within its ranks openly.
The so-called “gay lobby” in the Vatican’s bureaucracy is also suspected to have been one of the difficulties that led to Pope Benedict quitting, and Benedict himself had even signed a 2005 edict saying gay men shouldn’t be a priests (in spite of a number of rumours about himself). While Francis has already admitted that the “gay lobby” might be a problem, the new statement is a rare admission that gay priests are OK with the church.
Here’s his comment, again from Allen:
“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem … they’re our brothers.”
The Pope also touched on other controversial issues in the impromptu Q&A, including the troubled Vatican Bank and the role of women in the church. It’s proved a surprising addition to a trip that is already making a lot of headlines.
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