UPDATED: Human Rights Campaign responds to the Pope's statements
Pope Francis on Monday said “who am I to judge?” gay people as he discussed one of the most divisive issues affecting the Catholic Church.
“I have yet to find anyone who has a business card that says he is gay,” the pontiff said at a press conference in which he addressed the reports of a "gay lobby" within the Vatican.
“They say they exist. If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” he added. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society."
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Human Rights Campaign responds
Following his historic visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, Pope Francis made multiple comments about gay Catholics in the priesthood during a wide-ranging press conference aboard the Papal plane.
By all accounts, the Pope was speaking in response to a question about gay priests within the Roman Curia when he said, "Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?" He went on to discuss the so-called “Gay lobby,” gay leaders within the church seeking to change it from within, remarking, “they shouldn't be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem ... they're our brothers."
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), made the following statement.
“While Pope Francis’s words do not reflect a shift in Church policy, they represent a significant change in tone. Like his namesake, Francis’s humility and respect for human dignity are showing through, and the widespread positive response his words have received around the world reveals that Catholics everywhere are thirsty for change.
“But as long as millions of LGBT Catholic individuals, couples and youth alike are told in churches big and small that their lives and their families are disordered and sinful because of how they are born—how God made them—then the Church is sending a deeply harmful message. One’s sexuality is an immutable characteristic, and every leading medical and mental health organization has declared that attempts to change or suppress that fact are profoundly damaging. It’s time to send positive and affirming messages to all people, because the Bible is clear. All people have dignity in themselves and in their love for one another. It’s time for Church teaching to reflect that simple fact.”
A recent poll from New York Times/CBS News found that more than six in ten American Catholics support equal marriage, compared to 53 percent of the country as a whole. Another poll released today by Gallup, shows over 60 percent of Catholics support a law to legalize marriage equality in all 50 states, far greater than support by members of any other organized religion. The Catholic hierarchy would do well to listen to its members.