A seismic Vatican shift?

To say that Pope Francis is shaking things up is putting it mildly. The pontiff who carried his own suitcase and visited slums in Brazil, then attracted a crowd estimated at 3 million for his Sunday mass there, also appeared to overturn long-held church policy regarding gays in the priesthood.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis asked when questioned by reporters about gay priests.

The pope made it clear that homosexual acts remain a sin under church doctrine, but he took pains to separate that sin from actual crimes, such as the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy.

But Francis also broke with the views of his predecessor when he said, “We shouldn’t marginalize people for this. They should be integrated into society.” It’s the first time a pope has ever spoken in defense of gay priests, Vatican analysts said.

Pope Francis is a thoughtful man who has demonstrated he is more interested in working to solve real-world problems such as meeting the needs of the poor rather than drawing lines in the sand over church dogma. That’s good news for the Catholic Church and its millions of followers.


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