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Pope Francis: Don't judge gay people
HRC, Catholic LGBT Ministry respond

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Pope Francis has said gay people should not be marginalized or judged, the BBC has reported.

Speaking to reporters while flying back from Brazil, the pontiff asked, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?" Four months after he took over from Pope Benedict, he said gay people should be fully accepted in society, even though traditional Catholic teaching stated that same-sex acts were sinful.

However, the people also spoke out against what he termed "lobbying" by gay people: "The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem."

According to the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs website, as head of the Argentinian bishops, Francis (formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires) took a firm public stance against the legalization of same-sex marriage advocated by presidents Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

From a New Ways Ministry press release

MOUNT RAINIER, Maryland—Pope Francis' statement on accepting and respecting gay priests is a clear sign that this pope will be taking a more conciliatory approach to LGBT issues than his immediate predecessors have done.

Unlinke John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who approached LGBT topics through the lens of sexuality and sin, Pope Francis is signaling a new direction which is based on the Catholic principles of human dignity, respect, and social integration. Benedict had issued an instruction to bishops not to accept gay candidates for the seminary, a policy that was being considered under John Paul's papacy. Both previous papacies were noted for their virulent opposition against LGBT issues.

Some will say that Francis' statement is not enough, that he still refers to sins of homosexuals, but I think the important thing is the question of emphasis. Even if he doesn't drop the sin language, this is still a major step forward, and one that can pave the way for further advancements down the road. Change in the church is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Though this statement is not the change which many of us hope for, that is, the full equality of LGBT people in our church, it is a necessary first step toward that change.

New Ways Ministry is a 36-year old national Catholic ministry of justice and reconciliation for LGBT people and the wider church community. For further information, visit .

HRC Statement on Pope Francis' Remarks on Gay Priests

From a Press Release

Pope Francis comments reflect a hopeful change in tone; now, all Catholics should be included and affirmed as a matter of basic human dignity

WASHINGTON —Following his historic visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, Pope Francis made multiple comments about gay Catholics in the priesthood during a wide-ranging press conference aboard the Papal plane.

By all accounts, the Pope was speaking in response to a question about gay priests within the Roman Curia when he said, "Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?" He went on to discuss the so-called "Gay lobby," gay leaders within the church seeking to change it from within, remarking, "they shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers."

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, made the following statement.

"While Pope Francis's words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone. Like his namesake, Francis's humility and respect for human dignity are showing through, and the widespread positive response his words have received around the world reveals that Catholics everywhere are thirsty for change."

"But as long as millions of LGBT Catholic individuals, couples and youth alike are told in churches big and small that their lives and their families are disordered and sinful because of how they are born—how God made them—then the Church is sending a deeply harmful message. One's sexuality is an immutable characteristic, and every leading medical and mental health organization has declared that attempts to change or suppress that fact are profoundly damaging. It's time to send positive and affirming messages to all people, because the Bible is clear. All people have dignity in themselves and in their love for one another. It's time for Church teaching to reflect that simple fact."

A recent poll from New York Times/CBS News found that more than six in ten American Catholics support equal marriage, compared to 53 percent of the country as a whole. Another poll released today by Gallup, shows over 60 percent of Catholics support a law to legalize marriage equality in all 50 states, far greater than support by members of any other organized religion. The Catholic hierarchy would do well to listen to its members.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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