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Pope Francis says he won't judge gay priests

BY NICOLE WINFIELD, ASSOCIATED PRESS

ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRCRAFT -- 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.

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What a meaningless, idiotic distinction between the two Popes' statements. Nazinger wanted to create an impression that gay priests exclusively were accountable for the Church's child rape scandals. That was, in truth, a cover up for the cover up. The scandals exist because the Church hierarchy -- to this day -- refuses to acknowledge the full extent of the crimes committed by higher-ups not alerting criminal justice authorities, and denies justice to the victims. With Francis as Pope, the Church is fighting tooth and nail in New Jersey, for just one example, against proposed legislation to lift the statutes of limitations for the prosecution of child rape. If the expectation of those in the priesthood is that they will never have sex, what relevance is an individual priest's sexual orientation, except perhaps for brave individuals to mention a gay orientation in order to speak up for the humanity and rights of gay people? The whole notion that something good is being achieved for anybody, by a priest never having sex is ridiculous.

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