Pope Says He Won't Judge Gay Priests

Pope Francis disembarks from the plane after landing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at Ciampino's military airport, on the outskirts of Rome, Monday, July 29, 2013. The pontiff returned after a week in Brazil.
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By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRCRAFT (AP) — Pope Francis is reaching out to gays, saying he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation, in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returns from his first foreign trip.

Francis says: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

[READ: Pope Francis Urges Catholics to Shake Up Dioceses]

His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, authored a document that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis is being much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

His remarks came Monday during a plane journey back to the Vatican from his first foreign trip in Brazil.

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