Pope Francis Discusses Gay Catholics: 'Who Am I To Judge?'

Answering a question about reports of gays in the clergy, the pope said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

Gay people should be integrated into society instead of being ostracized, Pope Francis told journalists after his week-long trip to Brazil. Answering a question about reports of homosexuals in the clergy, the pope answered, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

In what's being called an unusually broad and candid news conference, Pope Francis took questions from reporters for more than an hour as he flew from Brazil to the Vatican; his plane landed Monday.

One question centered on recent reports in Italian media that accused the Vatican Bank's Monsignor Battista Ricca of conducting an affair with a Swiss army captain. In response, Pope Francis said that he looked into the reports, but found nothing to support the allegations.

The pope also used the occasion to expand on his June remarks about a "gay lobby" in the Vatican, clarifying that "he was against all lobbies, not just gay ones," the Italian news agency ANSA reports.

"Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby," ANSA quotes the pontiff saying. "The lobby is unacceptable, the gay one, the political one, the Masonic one."

The pope's view of gays is being seen as diverging from his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. As the AP reminds us, Benedict "signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten."

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

During the news conference on the 12-hour flight home, the pope also addressed a less serious question: What did he have in the black bag he carried during his trip?

The AP reports:

"'The keys to the atomic bomb weren't in it,' Francis quipped. Rather, he said, the bag merely contained a razor, his breviary prayer book, his agenda and a book on St. Terese of Lisieux, to whom he is particularly devoted.

"'It's normal' to carry a bag when traveling, he said. 'We have to get use to this being normal, this normalcy of life,' for a pope, he added."

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