Gay leaders encouraged by pope's comments on gays

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Associated Press

Posted on July 29, 2013 at 2:32 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The largest gay rights group in the United States says the comments today by Pope Francis reflect a "hopeful change in tone."

The pope today told reporters during a flight home from Brazil that he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation. He said, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" He also said gay clergymen should be forgiven, and their sins forgotten.

Although gay leaders are encouraged by the pope's non-judgmental approach, their encouragement was tempered by his reference to the "sins" of gay clergy. The head of the Human Rights Campaign says as long as gays are told in church that their lives are "sinful because of how they were born," then "the church is sending a deeply harmful message."

Still, the executive director of the U.S.-based New Ways Ministry says he's "overjoyed." Francis DeBernardo, whose group promotes justice and reconciliation for gays and the wider church community, says it's a welcome change from the negative comments about gays that he says have been coming from the Vatican for decades.

%@AP Links

172-a-07-(Paul Guequierre (yoo-GEHR'), spokesman, Human Rights Campaign, in AP interview)-"into the future"-Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign says Pope Francis seems to be leading the Roman Catholic Church to a more contemporary view of gay rights. (29 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *172 (07/29/13)££ 00:07 "into the future"

177-a-09-(Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in AP interview)-"activity not homosexuals"-Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says Pope Francis expressed an acceptance of gay priests consistent with church thinking. (29 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *177 (07/29/13)££ 00:09 "activity not homosexuals"

173-a-15-(Paul Guequierre (yoo-GEHR'), spokesman, Human Rights Campaign, in AP interview)-"positive step forward"-Paul Guequierre of the Human Rights Campaign says Pope Francis is willing to accept gay priests, which represents a shift in thinking. (29 Jul 2013)

<<CUT *173 (07/29/13)££ 00:15 "positive step forward"

GRAPHICSBANK: Pope Francis holds his papal crucifix, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, graphic element on gray (29 Jul 2013)

APPHOTO XVAT110: Pope Francis answers reporters questions during a news conference aboard the papal flight on the journey back from Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2013. Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn't judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. Francis' remarks came Monday during a plane journey back to the Vatican from his first foreign trip in Brazil. (AP Photo/Luca Zennaro, Pool) (28 Jul 2013)

<<APPHOTO XVAT110 (07/28/13)££

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