Pope Francis on Gay Priests: 'Who Am I to Judge?'

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Pope Francis took a a huge step forward for the Catholic church Monday morning when he endorsed gay priests within the church during a candid, impromptu interview on the way home from Brazil aboard the papal plane. The National Catholic Reporter says Francis participated in a wide-ranging interview with reporters for close to 90 minutes. No topic was too taboo for the pope to answer questions about. He was honest and open, even after his advisers allegedly told him not to participate. 

But the real blockbuster soundbite came when Francis opened the door for the gay acceptance within the church. "When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby," Francis told reporters. "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." As the Associated Press points out, this is a radical change of position from Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who signed a church document in 2005 banning homosexuals from serving the church. 

Francis also joked about the alleged "gay lobby" within the church. The "velvet mafia," as they've been called. "There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby," he said Sunday, "but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card!"

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But that's not all. Pope Francis also moved the church towards a more accepting attitude towards women. Francis spoke about his wish women filled more roles within the church, but that John Paul II, "definitively... said the door is closed," the women becoming priests. Still, he wishes for a deeper "theology of women" in the church's future."A church without women would be like the apostolic college without Mary," Francis said. "We talk about whether they can do this or that, can they be altar boys, can they be lectors, about a woman as president of Caritas, but we don’t have a deep theology of women in the church." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.