Dubuque archbishop: pope's non-judgment of gay priests merciful - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque archbishop calls pope's non-judgment of gay priests compassionate

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Pope Francis said he will not judge gay priests.

The Catholic leader made the comment to reporters early Monday morning on a flight back to the Vatican from his South American visit.

This isn't a departure from Catholic doctrine, which opposes homosexuality, but it does strike a more compassionate tone than some of Pope Francis' predecessors.

Monday afternoon, KWWL spoke with archbishop Michael Jackels of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, which covers 30 eastern Iowa counties (including Dubuque, Black Hawk and Linn counties) and serves the area's more than 200,000 Catholics.

"Just reading over the comments that Pope Francis made to the journalists in that flight, the whole notion of mercy and compassion came out a number of times," Jackels said at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Center in Dubuque.

He said the pope's words don't reflect a change in Catholic belief but do show compassion.

"When he said that, 'Oh, I'm not going to sit in judgment on any priest,' well, gosh we take our lead from Jesus on that one, that he himself said, 'Well, I don't come to judge or condemn but to redeem,'" Jackels said.

At St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church in Dubuque, dozens of the faithful gathered for Monday's midday mass, including Mary Schmitt.

"Been a Catholic all my life and just love it," Schmitt said after Monday's service. "I'd be lost without it, I guess."

She said she believes Pope Francis' comment about withholding judgment on gay priests is in keeping with the Catholic teachings on love.

"I think he realizes that we're not all born alike, but we're all God's children, and we just live the life that we are given," Schmitt said. "He knows that he's got to reach out to the people."

The pope's stance stands in contrast to that of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies shouldn't be priests. Pope Francis, on the other hand, said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.

Specifically, Pope Francis told reporters, in the context of answering a question about gay priests, "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge that person?"

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this point beautifully," he continued. "These persons must never be marginalized and they must be integrated into society. The problem is not that one has this tendency [homosexuality]; no, we must be brothers, this is the first matter."

The pope's in-flight press conference Monday morning with reporters lasted 82 minutes. Among the many topics addressed, Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic church will not ordain women as priests.

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