Pope Francis’ remarks get LGBT, Catholic community attention

Pope Francis frankly discussed topics that have historically been controversial for the Catholic church Monday, including homosexuality.

Aboard his flight from Brazil’s World Youth Day celebration, the Pope said this about gays and lesbians, including gay priests:

“If a person is gay… and seeks God and has good will… who am I to judge him?”

The speech included some of the most transparent remarks ever by a pontiff, and the Catholic and LGBT communities of Southern Colorado are taking notice.

He’s known as the “People’s Pope,” and Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs’ Bishop Michael Sheridan sees it as a perfect title.

“He speaks to individual people he speaks on a clear level, so it doesn’t surprise me he would stand strong,” Bishop Sheridan said.

The Pope’s words mark a sharp shift in tone, but the Bishop said it’s not a change in the church’s teaching.

“Every single human being, heterosexual, homosexual, old, young, is deserving of love and of respect and all human rights, etc,” Bishop Sheridan explained. “This is the clear teaching of the church.”

And that’s exactly what the Pope explained when he was questioned on what he would do upon learning a cleric was gay.

“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society,” he said.

Bishop Sheridan said this is how it’s been along, just maybe not how it’s been perceived.

“It’s a shame, unfortunately, some individual people, Catholics and non-Catholics, do not act that way. But that isn’t what the church says it says we owe respect and love to every human being,” he affirmed.

Leaders of the gay community in Colorado Springs appreciated hearing the pope’s compassion. They expressed relief, saying this means the Pontiff doesn’t believe they should be treated as second-class citizens.

“I was glad to finally see someone from that level and their religion talk about equality, and that’s what’s really important,” Charles Irwin, Director of Colorado Springs Pride explained.

LGBT community members said, while the church still views homosexual acts as a sin, many people of faith sin, too. They said all people should consider the Pope’s message in their interactions with people of different orientations and beliefs.

“I want to wait and see how it translates down into Colorado Springs. It’s great that the leader can say that, but I want to see it really backed up by action,” Irwin said.

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