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July 29th, 2013
08:48 AM ET

Pope Francis on gays: 'Who am I to judge?'

By John L. Allen Jr. and Hada Messia, CNN

Aboard the Papal Airplane (CNN) - Pope Francis said Monday that he will not "judge" gays and lesbians, including gay priests, signaling a shift from his predecessor and offering another sign that the new pope is committed to changing the church's approach to historically marginalized groups.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said in a wide-ranging news conference aboard the papal plane.

Though he was answering a question about the so-called "gay lobby" at the Vatican, the pope indicated a change in tone, if not in teaching, in the church's stance towards gays and lesbians more generally.

The pope was flying back to Rome from Brazil, where he spent the past week celebrating World Youth Day, an international Catholic event that drew millions.

Taking questions from reporters aboard the plane, the pope addressed nearly every hot-button issue facing the Roman Catholic Church: its alleged "gay lobby," Vatican bank corruption, the role of women, abortion, homosexuality and his own personal security.

But it was the pope's remarks on homosexuality - the fact that the head of a 1 billion-member church said that it's not his place to judge gays - that caused the widest stir.

"Pope Francis's brief comment on gays reveals great mercy," said the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor at America, a Catholic magazine based in New York.

"Today Pope Francis has, once again, lived out the Gospel message of compassion for everyone," Martin said.

The pontiff spoke  for an hour and a half in the back of the plane that was carrying him back to Italy after his first international trip as pope to Brazil, where he was greeted by massive, frenzied crowds at every turn.

"I'm happy. It has been a beautiful trip, spiritually speaking; it has been good to me. I'm tired enough but with a heart full of joy," he said.

Here are the highlights from his press conference.

On the 'gay lobby' and homosexuality

The pope addressed the issue of an alleged "gay lobby" within the church. Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Benedict's shocking decision to resign this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

"There's a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I've never seen it on the Vatican ID card!" Francis said.

"When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency (to homosexuality) is not the problem ... they're our brothers."

The problem, he said was, lobbies that work against the interest of the church.

In 2005, during the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued directives barring from the priesthood men "who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"

Francis' brief remarks seem to signal a sharp shift from that policy.

On women

The pope also spoke out about the role of women in the church, saying it needs to be deeper and not end. But he brushed aside the possibility of ordaining women as priests, saying the church had spoken on the matter: "The church says no. That door is closed." He did say that more work needed to be done theologically on the role of women in the church.

On abortion

Pope watchers have noted that Francis said little to nothing about abortion on his trip to Brazil. Abortion is illegal in Brazil, except for cases in which the health of the mother is at risk. Laws were recently changed to allow abortions in cases in which the child would be born with certain life-threatening birth defects.

The pope said he had nothing to say on the trip about abortion because the church teachings against it were clear and this trip was the time for "positive" news.

On divorce

"I believe this is a time of mercy, a change of epoch," the pope said when asked about divorce. He said the group of eight cardinals tasked with reform will explore the issue of whether divorcees can receive Communion, which they are currently barred from doing.

On the Vatican Bank

The pope conceded he was unsure what to do with the Vatican Bank, which is known by its acronym IOR.

"Some say that it would be better if it were a bank, others say that it should be a foundation. Other say to shut it down. These are the suggestions going around. I don't know. I trust the commission's members that are working on the IOR. But I wouldn't be able to tell you how this story is going to end."

And as for what was in the black leather bag he carried onto the plane? A razor, a prayer book, a diary and a book about St. Theresa, but, the pope joked, "Certainly not the keys to the atomic bomb!"

He said he carried his own bags because, "It's normal, we have to be normal. We have to be accustomed to being normal."

CNN's Eric Marrapodi and Daniel Burke contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Brazil • Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Vatican

soundoff (3,302 Responses)
  1. Jim

    Pope says not his issue if they like to hump piles or tubes full of poop. Kind of sick in the head, but to each his own. We can accept that you're freaks of nature and essentially a drowning in your families gene pool. Not our problem. Feel free to cease your families role in the future if that's what you're into!

    July 29, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • GrowUp

      Wow. That spat with your boyfriend must have been a doozy.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • Jim

        Boyfriend? No, you're assertion that if you find your kind repulsive means one secretly wishes to be you only works with your gay friends. The rest of society sees you Pervs for what you are, disgusting poop pumping parent disappointing wastes who didn't need to be, but chose to be with your sick lifestyle selection. Yes, selection. Born that way? Give me a freaking break!

        July 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • GrowUp

          Dude–get a grip. You are one sick, bitter puppy. See a shrink and try to overcome your demons.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
      • QS

        Obvious troll....don't feed it.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Observer

      Jim,

      Grow up, child.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
      • Jim

        Clean yourself perv. You smell like poop and I hope that's just a milk mustache you're sporting.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
        • Observer

          Jim,

          I'm straight. But don't worry about making a FOOL of yourself AGAIN.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • GrowUp

          Take your meds Jim and please do not reproduce.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • sam

          Uh oh, a troll with his panties in a bunch! How cute.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • Jim

          Looks like you all if straight have been drinking and are now drunk with CNNs koolaid. If you're really straight, trust your instincts that tell you it is a sick perversion. Harm gays? No. But to accept that as a normal selection for our youth is just as evil. Pity those that have the disorder that took them down a path that essentially takes their family's millions of years of evolution out of the future with no vote by their straight parents or ancestors.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • GrowUp

          Guys–don't give Jim any more attention. He is clearly a waste of space.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
        • sam

          Yes yes, we get it, you're an attention whoring troll with issues. Jim, stop thinking about gay sex more than gay people do, and go do your chores before your mommy gets home.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
        • Jim

          Sam's response says it best. That always where the gays seem to go. Agree with us or you really wish to be us. Sorry, that argument fails. Hope you guys have some straight siblings for your parents and ancestors sake!

          July 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • sam

          I hope your parents had at least one kid who wasn't a slavering douche. Anything else, little troll?

          July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • Snow

      I will ONLY listen to you if you can also support/advocate a const.itutional ban for a man to have an.al s3x with a woman as well.. until then, well, what observer said.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
      • Jim

        I'd support that. I know gays and some straights state women like that. I've been with a lot (no not hundreds, so maybe not a strong sample) of women and have yet to meet one that thought anything there would be a good thing. Maybe there are some, but my guess is its more women trying not to disappoint their closeted gay boyfriends/husbands. Who knows, but what would possibly possess anyone to want to put their junk in poop?

        July 29, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
        • Observer

          Jim,

          Apparently hetero sodomy is quite common. If you watch any late night HBO or Showtime adult movies, you'll see it and they wouldn't show it if the audience was largely repulsed.

          When heteros don't engage in any "perverted" activities, then you will BEGIN to have credibility. Until then it's just hypocrisy.

          July 29, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
      • GrowUp

        Don't feed trolls.

        July 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  2. GrowUp

    All those creepy Cardinals must have their dresses in a twist.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  3. PDXSerric

    What will be interesting is if the Catholic faith as a whole just accepts this. Which, according to their own belief, they must. The Pope is "Lord God on Earth", meaning what the Pope decrees is accepted as ordained form God Himself.

    We know that all religions tend to pick and choose which parts of their faith they follow and which they ignore, but if Catholics as a whole resist the Pope's decree they are invalidating the very cornerstone of their faith.

    Yes, this will be very interesting to watch indeed....

    July 29, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • SouthernCelt

      Apparently you do not know much (if anything) about Catholicism. There is only One God and the Pope is just his chief Priest on Earth and the Head of the Church on Earth. Comments made on an airplane are just his opinion on a subject. Decrees are only made Ex-Cathedra meaning after much consulting with his advisors and Cardinals, after much prayerful consideration, and speaking from St. Peter's chair. Decrees are binding on the faithful, comments are not. The Pope's comments are generally consistent with Church policy which is to love the sinner, hate the sin.

      July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
      • QS

        After this ridiculous comment there is nothing that would ever convince me to learn more about this cult for fear I would become just like the person who posted this comment.

        July 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • GrowUp

        Creepin' me out dude.

        July 29, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  4. Bob

    Pope: If I support pedophiles, I can't really judge gays too much, can I?

    July 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  5. QS

    This Pope hasn't said anything different than any other Pope before him, except that rather than outright condemning gay people he has simply softened that condemnation slightly to mask the still very real loathing of gay people that exists within this religion.

    He essentially said that it's not his place to judge, but that because gay people are gay they will still have to answer for that "sin". Nothing new to see here other than a lousy attempt at a new spin on an old theme!

    July 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • niknak

      That is how I read it too.
      Give it a week, and the spin masters at the Vatican will have him right back on the hate message that all religions love so much.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  6. RL Parent

    I read that there was 1,000,000 brazilian people on a single beach for his mass. Do you know how many that is? For those of you not properly skooled in figurin:
    One million-brazilian = One Gazillion! (give or take a few as needed for the figurin)

    July 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  7. kd

    This is completely misrepresented by the media. He was talking about gay priests, not the entire gay population. He has said absolutely horrid things about gays for decades. A very oddball thing for him to say.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Thomas Woo

      He was a not Pope back then, now he is. Some people thinks he speak for God.

      July 30, 2013 at 1:13 am |
  8. WrshipWarior

    Hey CNN: Stop filtering comments containing religious expressions on the Belief Blog. Why do you allow 4-letter expletives but you won't allow clean, wholesome conversation? Makes no sense... unless you're completely biased and hypocritical.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
    • sam

      Put your foil hat away. You just haven't learned to get around the word filter. Based on your screen name, I highly doubt we want you to.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
      • WrshipWarior

        Thank you for reinforcing my observations of this forum. I guess the Belief Blog only exists so non-believers can have their say and the voice of believers gets silenced.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
        • niknak

          You just posted, so tell me exactly how you are being silenced?

          July 29, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
        • WrshipWarior

          Actually I've posted a few comments here that never made it. No big deal. Nobody wants to listen anyway...

          July 29, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • Helpful Hints

          WrshipWarior,

          Do you promise not to be horrified and report abuse if we put up the word filter list for you?

          (I think I recall giving it to you a while back - I recognize your name - it doesn't seem that you paid attention)

          July 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • niknak

          They did not make it because you did not get past the filter, NOT because some evil atheist censored it.
          I will give you an example,
          If you write ra pe without the space, it won't post.

          Any word within a word that has some bad word in it, will make your whole post not show up.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
        • sam

          That's right. PERSECUTION! That's the most likely answer. It couldn't possibly be something like an overly picky word filter. Actually, it may be the devil.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
        • .

          @Helpful – PLEASE don't help this person out. Let them figure it out or get mad and go away. This is a class-1 looneytune.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
        • niknak

          Or worse, and ATHEIST DEVIL!

          It must really suck tinfoilhatwarior to go thru life thinking that everyone is out to get you.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
        • QS

          What is it with religious people....do they just not feel it's been a full, productive day unless they make a claim that they are the victim of some kind of anti-religious persecution that exists only in their own minds?

          And they wonder why we find it so, so easy to mock them!

          July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
        • Helpful Hints

          @.,

          I try to be fair and even-handed in posting the list when people are stymied. I empathize with their frustration. I do get irked when they report abuse. In this case, I'll wait for Wrship to request it.

          July 29, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • M.R.

      Tinfoil warrior, persecuted nonchalance.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • WrshipWarior

        But definitely not forsaken.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
        • niknak

          You have not proof of that tinfoilwarior.
          In fact, if a god did exist, there are thousands of religions, and the odds that yours is the right one is pretty small.

          July 29, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  9. anonymous

    The Pope seems to be traveling in a different direction than a lot of Christians are today. Too many Christians today throw stones and expect people to repent because things are being thrown at them. Throwing stones at someone only makes them afraid and angry not repentant. To those who have not yet accepted Jesus as their savior, we need to show love not hate. If we would only give them Christs love, our reaping would be great. Have we forgotten the story of the stone throwers? Jewish men caught a woman in the act of adultery, and by the law of the time she was to be stoned to death, but they wanted to see what Jesus said about it, to trap him in his words, and he said " He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her". Jesus clearly points out that sometimes we desire to punish the wicked in our own heart so much that it becomes something that distracts us from the real problem and that is our own sinfulness. We are to spread the light not judgment.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • niknak

      You know what you religious people could really do for us non believers?
      Keep you beliefs out of our government, courts, schools and medicine.
      And start having your houses of myth start paying their fair share of taxes.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • QS

      You know what else makes many of us angry....? Religions declaring that any and all should repent for things that THEY deem wrong when the rest of the world has already moved beyond certain "wrongs" which were acceptable all along, other than to the religious.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
      • WrshipWarior

        " the rest of the world has already moved beyond certain "wrongs" which were acceptable all along"

        So is what you're saying is stealing and murder are acceptable to the rest of the world also?

        July 29, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
        • sam

          Yes, that's exactly what's being said. Take a statement, and blow it far out of proportion and go for the hyperbole! I knew you could do it. Pray tell, what other exciting tidbits of wisdom could you impart?

          July 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • niknak

          So you are asserting that it was religion that made those things laws?
          Then how do you explain Hammurabi's code?
          That dude put up a list of 10 "rules" that all citizens of the city had to abide by.
          And he did that almost 1700 years BEFORE your myth was invented.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
        • sam

          This must be the wholesome conversation WW mentioned above.

          July 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  10. GrowUp

    It's all so silly and archaic.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • niknak

      You mean religions, right?

      July 29, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
      • GrowUp

        Yep. And millions flocking to worship this dude.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  11. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    I believe they should have included the entire quote in the article tltle, as I believe it might make people view him a bit differently...

    Pope Francis on gays: `Who am I to judge? I'll tell you who the fvck I am to Judge! I'm the Pope God Damn it!"

    July 29, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • niknak

      I must have missed that part

      July 29, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  12. Michael

    Party on time!!!!!!!! woohoo!!! nobody in control, ya, my kind of Pope..........

    July 29, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • GrowUp

      Take your meds and go back down to your Mom's basement.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • QS

      Seems to me that religious people make this complaint the most, as if without THEIR religion the rest of us will simply become an anarchistic society.

      So are religious people simply unable to employ any self-control of their own? Do they not just want but need a system of control like religion in order for them to feel human?

      Just another one of those religious contradictions I suppose – free will, free will....oh, but you have to do exactly as we tell you because otherwise you will make all the wrong choices with that free will. LMAO!

      July 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
      • niknak

        I believe that is how it is for most believers.
        If not for their fear of big brother, they would just be serial killer zombies.

        July 29, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • GrowUp

          Or at least would not behave well. Shows how "moral" they really are–they are motivated by not getting caught doing something bad as opposed to simply not wanting to do something bad. Huge difference.

          July 29, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
      • andrew

        Yes, religion is a set of rules to govern the very movement of our lives. Religion is man way of trying to get closer to God. This was never God plan from the very beginning. God wants/wanted a relationship with all mankind to show them a more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 13 gives us the perfect example with the definition of Love the way God designed it from the very beginning. Jesus even slammed the very church leader of his day for being so religious that the rules and laws they made no one could ever keep. So what you see is an imperfect man living in an imperfect world and trying to follow a higher standard that can never be reached, God's standard. Again I say this was never God plan, so God altered the plan by sending His Son Jesus to make a way for sinful man to be acceptable to a holy God. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son (as payment for sin of the world) that all may have eternal life. John 3:16 It is through Jesus that we can have peace with God and restore our relationship with the true and living God. Man + Religion with all its laws and regulations = misery; Man + Relationship with God = Peace, Hope, and guaranteed eternal life in Heaven.
        Your free will choice to choose God or not to choose God. The decision has eternal consequences!!!!

        July 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
        • GrowUp

          Wow! Did you read that in The Enquirer?

          July 29, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  13. Michael

    And they wonder why attendance is down in Catholic churches........... all you 'gay' priests, here is your permission to keep banging the alterboysbums

    July 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • GrowUp

      I take it you were passed over by the priest?

      July 29, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Just the Facts Ma'am...

      Has no one pointed out to you the difference between being gay and beig a child r a p i s t? Really?

      July 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  14. darth's daughter

    The Pope resembles my brother Danny and why on Sunday did the Pope have his helping hand in the left hand coroner near West S hore, Tampa, Florida aka Cole, Scott and Kissane?

    July 29, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  15. BoulderAv

    Francis move toward a more liberal position is very exciting. I am not gay but the movement by the head of the church is a encouraging sign towards a more modern and accepting church. Perhaps some movement on birth control and abortion could be made. I am personally morally opposed to abortions performed past the first few weeks but they should remain legal. Jesus teachings focused on loving and helping on another. Something lost to many modern Christians who act more like the Pharisees that Jesus clashed with, The conservatives have had their time in the Catholic Church it is time for the liberal wing to take over. Less fire and brimstone is a positive thing.

    July 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • QS

      Less religion overall is even better.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  16. GodGrief

    All I heard was the Pope said it was okay to be gay... Is this true? What would Jesus say to all of you so called "Christians" out there...

    July 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  17. GrowUp

    Some dude joins an old boys club, gets voted most popular in the club, puts on a gown and suddenly people hang on to his every word? Kinda creepy.

    July 29, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • niknak

      All religions are kinda creepy.

      July 29, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  18. No one

    Hehe, this pope is hilarious, first atheists now gays. The religious zealots' heads are about to explode.

    July 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.