Pope Francis has said gay people should not be marginalised but integrated into society, in some of the most conciliatory remarks by a pontiff on the issue of homosexuality. In a broad-ranging 80-minute conversation with journalists on the plane bringing him back from a week-long visit to Brazil on Sunday night, he also said he could not judge gay priests, an emotive topic that divides Catholic opinion. But the 76-year-old Argentine did reaffirm Church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin.
Francis also stressed the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests was definitive, although he would like them to have more leadership roles in administration and pastoral activities. And he expressed pain over scandals at the Vatican bank during a remarkably forthright press conference, his first since being elected in March to replace Benedict XVI.
His forthright tone and readiness to field so many questions underlined Francis’ desire to do things differently. He has eschewed many trappings of the papacy, championed the poor and tackled some of the biggest scandals facing the Church head-on.
Francis said there were saints in the Holy See but also “those who are not very saintly”.