DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Catholics are reacting to the Pope’s comments on homosexuals. He told reporters during his flight home from Brazil that he won’t judge gay priests for their sexual orientation.

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Denver believes Pope Francis is reaching out to all people, but not changing Church policy. Still, members of the gay community are hopeful.

The Pope told reporters, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” It was an unprecedented news conference during the flight home from World Youth Day in Brazil.

The Pontiff said homosexual acts are a sin, but he reached out to gay priests saying he wouldn’t judge them for their sexual orientation. Karna Swanson of the Archdiocese of Denver views the Pontiff’s remarks as reflective of Church policy.

“He is simply reiterating the clear and consistent teaching of the Church that all people, no matter their sexual orientation, are welcome and accepted in the Church,” Swanson said.

But Pope Francis presented a much different tone than the one set by his predecessor, Pope Benedict. In 2005, Benedict signed a document saying men who had deep rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. On Monday Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

“And part of being forgiven for your sin is that you make a commitment to go forward and sin no more,” Swanson said.

To the Archdiocese, the Pope demonstrated a new way of communicating — simple and direct — but not changes in Catholicism.

Mindy Barton, Legal Director of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, has a different opinion.

“I do think this is a sign of hope, Barton said. “I think this does signal a shift and it signals leadership within the Catholic Church that is ready to start speaking about some issues that they might have always had hidden before.”

Barton is excited just to get the conversation started.

There won’t be much conversation from the Vatican about women as priests. Pope Francis said the Church must develop a more profound role for women, but the “door is closed” to ordaining them.


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