In some impromptu comments on the plane journey home from Brazil, Pope Francis has said homosexuals should not be marginalised but integrated into society.
There was no problem with homosexual orientation, he added. But he reaffirmed Catholic Church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin, and condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people.
“All the lobbies are not good,” he told reporters, before adding: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”
The pope was answering a question about reports of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican. “I haven’t seen anyone in the Vatican with an identity card saying they’re gay”, he joked.
In comments seen as more conciliatory than those of his predecessor, Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. In 2005 Pope Benedict signed a document saying men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests.
Francis also described as definitive the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests: “the door is closed”, he said, adding that women should however play a greater role within the Church.
The pope arrived back in Rome after a week-long tour of Brazil. The world youth festival on Rio’s Copacabana beach is estimated to have attracted more than three million people.
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