POPE Francis has said that he is not in a place to judge gay
people, and has called for more women to be given opportunities for
leadership in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Pope made the comments at an impromptu press conference
during a flight home from Brazil, on Monday, at the end of a
week-long visit. Highlights of the visit included a mass on
Copacabana beach, on Sunday, for World Youth Day, which was
attended by about three million people.
During the press conference on his return flight, Pope Francis
said: "If a person is gay, and seeks God and has good will, who am
I to judge him? We shouldn't marginalise people for this. They must
be integrated into society."
He continued: "The problem is not having this orientation. . .
The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy
people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This
is the worse problem."
Asked about the status of women in the RC Church, Pope Francis
said: "We cannot limit the role of women in the Church to altar
girls or the president of a charity; there must be more." On the
ordination of women to the priesthood, however, he said: "The
Church has spoken and says 'no'. . . That door is
The gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell said, on Monday, that the
Pope had "offered a change of tone in Vatican pronouncements on gay
people, but not a change in substance. The Church's hard-line
stance against gay equality and relationships remains intact."
The chairman of the Soho Masses Pastoral Council, Joe Stanley,
told Newsnight on Monday evening that he welcomed "the
change in rhetoric that's come about. . . It's very clear that he
didn't say there was going to be any change in church teaching. . .
But, by contrast with the last Pope, who . . . really used some
extremely uncharitable language towards gay people, this Pope's
openness and approachability will make a huge impact on those who
are gay and are believers."
On Saturday, the Pope celebrated mass at São Sebastião
Cathedral, in Rio de Janeiro, along with about 1000 RC bishops and
clerics, where he told them: "We cannot keep ourselves shut up in
parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for
On Thursday of last week, he visited the Varginha favela, in
northern Rio de Janeiro, where he told a crowd: "You are often
disappointed by facts that speak of corruption on the part of
people who put their own interests before the common good. To you
and all, I repeat: never yield to discouragement; do not lose
trust; do not allow your hope to be extinguished. Situations can
change; people can change."
Pastoral letter. The RC Archbishop of
Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, issued a pastoral
letter, "The Narrow Gate", last Friday. The letter said that the
passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples Bill) last month (
News, 19 July) represented "the deconstruction of marriage as
it has been understood for millennia. In effect, this Act completes
the privatisation of marriage, so that its central content is
whatever the couple wish to construct. Marriage is no longer a
truly public institution, at the basis of society."