Pope reaches out to gays in first news conference

(Enric Marti/AP)

Pope Francis appeared to reach out to gays during his first full-length news conference since he became pope in March.

Speaking to members of the international media on the plane as he flew back from World Youth Day in Brazil, Pope Francis spoke about judging priests for their sexual orientation.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Pope Francis said to members of the media. Homosexual acts remain sinful, but homosexual orientation is not, he said.

He went on say that the treatment of gay people is explained by the Church.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” Pope Francis said. “It says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”

However, he did condemn the gay lobby that exists within the Curia, the Vatican’s administration. “The problem is not having this orientation. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worst problem,” he said.

The Pope was in Brazil for his first foreign trip since he replaced former Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis’ stance on gay men in the Church departs from that of Pope Benedict XVI, who signed a document in 2005 saying that gay men should not be priests.

The Pope also said that there should be more roles for women in the Church, but said that “the door is closed” when it comes to women being ordained.

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