(WSJ) ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE— Pope Francis opened the door Sunday to greater acceptance of gay priests inside the ranks of Roman Catholicism as he returned to the Vatican from his maiden trip overseas.
Pope Francis, left, and Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone step off a plane at Ciampino Airport outside Rome after returning from their trip to Brazil Monday.
Fielding questions from reporters during the first news conference of his young papacy, the pontiff broached the delicate question of how he would respond to learning that a cleric in his ranks was gay, though not sexually active. For decades, the Vatican has regarded homosexuality as a “disorder,” and Pope Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict XVIformally barred men with what the Vatican deemed “deep-seated” homosexuality from entering the priesthood.
“Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord?” the pontiff said, speaking in Italian. “You can’t marginalize these people.”
Pope Francis in Brazil
Pope Francis celebrated the final Mass of his Brazil trip at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro Sunday.
The news conference was wide-ranging and hastily arranged aboard an overnight flight that returned the pontiff to Rome Monday from a weeklong trip to Brazil where millions of people flocked to see him, including three million at a Mass Sunday on the beach in Rio de Janeiro. The rock-star reception, analysts say, is likely to strengthen the pope’s hand as he confronts myriad challenges awaiting him at the Vatican, from corruption at the Vatican bank to the long-running sexual-abuse crisis.
Pope Francis’ remarks on homosexuality came as he mused at length on one scandal that erupted on his predecessor’s watch: A secret Vatican report leaked to the Italian media purporting that a clique of homosexual Vatican clerics had formed a “gay lobby” that was secretly pulling the strings inside the Holy See.
The Argentine pontiff said he had discussed the findings of the internal Vatican report with Pope Benedict XVI who resigned in early February. The German pope emeritus, Francis said, had given him a box full of documentation and testimony from the internal report prepared by three octogenarian cardinals before he stepped down.
Special Thanks To Theodore Shoebat