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Pope Francis » International

Pope speaks with astonishing frankness to media

Asks "who am I to judge" homosexuals, discusses Vatican bank and women in the Church

Pope speaks with astonishing frankness to media

Picture: National Catholic Reporter

John L. Allen Jr International

July 30, 2013

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One way to tell that a pope is feeling good at the end of a long trip is when he comes back to the press compartment and does precisely what he said at the beginning of the journey he won't, or can't, do. On the way to Rio de Janeiro on July 22, Pope Francis told reporters, "I don't give interviews." But at the end of his seven-day tour de force in Brazil, not only did the pope give an interview, he gave a whopper of one.

He took questions from reporters traveling aboard the papal plane for a full hour and 21 minutes with no filters or limits and nothing off the record.

Francis stood for the entire time, answering without notes and never refusing to take a question. The final query was an especially delicate one about charges of homosexual conduct against his recently appointed delegate to reform the Vatican bank, and not only did Francis answer, but he actually thanked reporters for the question.

On background, officials said the decision to hold the news conference aboard the 12-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Rome was a personal decision by Francis and that aides at one point had counseled him against it. Not since John Paul II, prior to the debilitating effects of his illness, has a pope engaged in such a free-wheeling and spontaneous exchange with the press.

Francis spoke in Italian and Spanish, the languages in which his comfort level is the greatest. Among other points, Pope Francis:

Replied when asked about the Vatican's alleged "gay lobby" that while a lobby might be an issue, he doesn't have any problem with the inclination to homosexuality itself: "Who am I to judge them if they're seeking the Lord in good faith?" he said.

Conceded he doesn't yet know what to do about the Vatican bank, saying it could become an ethical bank, an assistance fund for good causes, or be closed altogether.

Said he hasn't run into significant resistance to reform inside the Vatican and joked that if there really is a "gay lobby," he hasn't yet seen it stamped on anyone's ID cards.

Argued for the importance of women in the church, yet said John Paul II "definitively ... closed the door" to women priests. He called for a deeper "theology of women" beyond disputed questions such as whether they can be lectors at Mass or head Vatican agencies such as Caritas Internationalis. 

Full Story: Pope on homosexuals: 'Who am I to judge?'

Source: National Catholic Reporter


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