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The Pope speaks out on gays in the Catholic Church

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The Pope appears to be taking a new approach to gays and the Catholic Church. In an unprecedented move he spoke to reporters about gay priests. Many believe it's opening up a greater level of compassion.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The Pope appears to be taking a new approach to gays and the Catholic Church. In an unprecedented move he spoke to reporters about gay priests. Many believe it's opening up a greater level of compassion.

With a few simple words, Pope Francis is changing the way the Catholic Church looks at homosexuality. During a press conference Monday as he flew back to Rome, he spoke openly about gay priests.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" said Pope Francis.

Those comments don't change Catholic doctrine, but many consider them an olive branch to homosexuals. It's a change being noticed through the ranks of the church.

"It was a different tone than we've heard from the Vatican. It was very pastoral and compassionate," said Father James Martin, American Jesuit Priest.

Catholics who gathered to pray at Salt Lake's Cathedral of the Madeleine believe the change is good.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," said Ken Long, Catholic Church member.

"He doesn't want to judge gay and I agree with that," said Robert Vallarino, Catholic Church member.

"I think it was wonderful and reflected his personality," said Melinda Powers, Catholic Church member.

That personality is much different than Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict, who called gays "objectively disordered,” and John Paul the Second who said homosexual acts were "against natural law."

"Archbishops and bishops always take their lead from the Pope. And the fact that the Pope is trying to be more welcoming is a great step forward," said Martin.

Many Catholics are excited about the future steps the people's Pontiff will take.

"He's exciting a lot of young people," said Vallarino.

Not all Catholic may necessarily agree to being more open to gay people. The Catholic Church members ABC 4 Utah spoke to Monday included a small sampling of local members.

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Follow Brian Carlson on Twitter: @briancarlsontv
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