Category: World / July 29, 2013 10:25 AM EDT
Pope Francis said on Sunday (July 28) that gays should not be judged or marginalized and should be integrated into society, but he reaffirmed Church teaching that homosexual acts are a sin.
In a broad-ranging 80-minute conversation with journalists on the plane bringing him back from a week-long visit to Brazil, Francis also said 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.
Francis defended gays from discrimination but also referred to the Catholic Church's universal belief, which says that while homosexual orientation is not sinful homosexual acts are.
Francis was answering a question about reports of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican, after it suffered a string of scandals over pedophile priests and corruption in the administration of the Holy See.
Addressing the issue of women priests, the pope said the Church teaches that it cannot ordain women because Jesus willingly chose only men as his apostles.
Advocates of a female priesthood say he was acting according to the customs of his times.
Many in the Church, even those who oppose a female priesthood, say women should be given leadership roles in the Church and the Vatican administration.
Unlike his predecessor Benedict, who knew in advance the few questions journalists were allowed to ask, 76-year-old Francis imposed no restrictions as he fielded 21 questions.
Video Credit: Reuters