Pope Francis: Gay Priests and Believers 'Not The Problem'
Pope Francis hasn't had much time as the leader of the Catholic Church, but he is already stirring plenty of controversy. The current pope has shown that he is unafraid to take a much more modern and liberal approach to some of the more controversial issues, and he has continued that trend this week by proclaiming that he was alright with homosexuals in the church.
"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis said Monday in news conference aboard the papal plane. He was returning to Italy after his first trip as a pope to Brazil, where he celebrated the annual World Youth Day, which is an international Catholic event that draws millions of followers.
This most recent quote from Pope Francis is sure to shock many in the Catholic community. Catholicism has long had a stance that strictly condemns any person who engages in homosexual activity, and this latest sound byte from Francis goes against the long-standing rhetoric of the religion he leads.
"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby," the pope said. "If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency (to be homosexual) is not the problem. They are our brothers."
Though only time will tell how the Catholic community embraces this new stance from the pontiff, many people are applauding Pope Francis for his open-minded stance and compassion for his fellow man.
"It is such a great relief to hear a pope of all people talk about gay issues in a non-judgmental way like this. I wish all Catholics would follow this lead," said Alessandro Di Antonio, an officer with the National Union of Gay Italians in Rome.
Pope Francis first ascended to his role as the most powerful Catholic in the world this March after Pope Benedict suddenly resigned from his post. Francis is the first pope to hail from a Latin American country (Argentina), and he is known for his progressive positions on many issues.
Among those issues includes his commitment to reconsider the Catholic Church's stance on divorce, as well as having the Vatican maintain a more modern, fresher perspective. That includes such actions as Francis stating that those who follow his time at World Youth Day on Twitter may receive indulgences for their sins.
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