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Gay centre says pope's comments revolutionary

Interview with Jesuit journal 'encouraging for human rights'

20 September, 14:44
Gay centre says pope's comments revolutionary (ANSA) - Rome, September 20 - Pope Francis may be changing attitudes towards homosexuals with a recent interview suggesting a broad-minded approach to gender differences, a spokesman for a gay centre said Friday. The Pope has started "a revolution," with an open-mindedness that is "ahead of many politicians," said Fabrizio Marrazzo, a spokesman for Rome's Gay Center.

"In these recent years, we have been accustomed to punitive (references) towards homosexual people by the Church," he said.

In an interview published Thursday in a Jesuit journal, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church should not be "obsessed" with preaching about such issues as gay marriage and abortion but instead, should reach out to individuals.

"We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel," Francis said.

Marrazzo said that only time will tell if the pope's words will lead to concrete changes.

But, he added, they seem to present an opening.

"The words of Pope Francis are an opening to a new way of understanding the relationship between Catholic doctrine and life of people," added Marrazzo. But "surely this Pope is ahead of many Italian politicians who refer to the Catholic tradition (as justification) to attack gays".

A statement from Rome's Arcigay centre said the pope's greatest contribution on the issue of gay rights "is not a moral (argument) but a social one".

"In fact, even the pope recognizes and condemns the social stigma that gay people suffer," in Italian society and from politicians forming laws.

Arcigay suggested that with his words, Pope Francis is signally to the Church that it must temper its anti-gay rhetoric.