Speaking to reporters on a flight back from Brazil, he reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.

He was responding to questions about whether there was a “gay lobby” in the Vatican.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word “gay.”

This is a first for the church, as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, did not support homosexuality.

Pope Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests, but Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

Friendly pope

Unlike his predecessors, Pope Francis has also been described as very friendly, to the extent that he circumvents security measures. On his visit to Brazil, the Pope went past barricades into the public street to greet people. The Pope also took things from people, which according to his security team, is dangerous as people could easily poison him.

Sources: New York Times, Catholic online