Pope Francis reached out to gays today (July 29, 2013), saying in a news conference he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation, as he returned to Rome from his trip to Brazil, the Washington Post website reports.
"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Frances asked. "We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society."
Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men who had deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory in his first news conference as pope today, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.
Although the pope's comments do not signal a change in Catholic Church policy, they do indicate a shift in tone under Francis' young papacy, and an emphasis on a church that is more inclusive and merciful rather than critical and disciplinary.