Pope Francis Celebrates Mass On Copacabana BeachPope Francis has opened up on the issue of homosexuality in the Catholic Church. It has been an issue that has divided Catholics and an issue that has lead many gay Catholics away from the church. As reported by the New York Times on July 29, Pope Francis said he will not pass judgment on priests for their sexual orientation.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The comments came as the pope opened up in an 80-minute news conference with reporters on his plane. Pope Francis also believes women should have a greater role in the Catholic Church. His views are of a more safe approach, but sends the message of inclusion.

Unlike his predecessor, Benedict XVI, Francis does not feel gay priests should be excluded. Benedict believed men with homosexual tendencies should not become priests and was very outspoken against same-sex marriage. Although Francis shares similar views as Benedict XVI, believing that marriage should be a “stable union of man and woman”, he hasn’t been as vocal in opposition.

He also appears to be a more humble pope, as made evident by reporters who said that Francis was in high spirits during the news conference and didn’t dodge any questions including reports of a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican. The same reports that allegedly lead to the retirement of Benedict XVI.

Francis told reporters that he has investigated the reports and haven’t found any supportive evidence. He admitted that any truth to a “gay lobby” would be an issue but does not have anything against gays and feel they, like everyone, should be treated with respect and dignity and free of judgment.