ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRPLANE (CNN) –Pope Francis said Monday that he will not “judge” gays and lesbians – including gay priests – signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church’s approach to historically marginalized groups.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.
Though answering a question about the so-called “gay lobby” at the Vatican, the pope’s remarks seemed to signal a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church’s stance towards gays and lesbians more generally.
The pope was flying back to Rome from Brazil, where he spent the past week celebrating World Youth Day, an international Catholic event that drew millions.
Taking questions from reporters aboard the plane, the pope addressed nearly every hot-button issue facing the Roman Catholic Church: its alleged “gay lobby,” Vatican bank corruption, the role of women, abortion, homosexuality and his own personal.