CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A candid Pope Francis took a stance Monday on gay priests that is reverberating throughout the Catholic Church.
The pope told reporters during a flight home from Brazil that he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation. He also said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.
Despite his candor, Pope Francis did reaffirm Catholic teaching that calls homosexual acts a sin, and he conceded that while the ban on female priests in the church was definitive, women should be granted a bigger role.
FOX19's Brett Hoffland had a chance to speak with a variety of people on all sides of the issue to see what they thought regarding Francis' comments.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights supporter Steve Newsome says Monday's comments from the pope are incredibly significant.
"You see it as one of the first recorded times in history that the pope is actually acknowledging gay people, so it's nice to see that gay is now in the vernacular of the Vatican, but there's a long way to go for LGBT Catholics," said Newsome.
Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men who have deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Father David Endres says he doesn't necessarily see this as a step forward or backward for the Catholic Church.
"Certainly within the church we have a broad spectrum of people, certainly those that do struggle with this, but the reality is we are all called to chastity and that's what the church is trying to re-affirm," said Father Endres.
Dan Frondorf with the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests says the Catholic Church has made progress with protecting kids from abusive priests but they do have some work to do.
"The most important thing to take away from that is he didn't say they were tolerant of abusive priests or pedophile priests and that's an important distinction," said Frondorf.
"Comparing homosexuality and perversion is just ludicrous at this point. I think we all know that the two are not even comparable," said Newsome.
Despite the controversial comments made by the Pope, he says he still doesn't condone homosexual acts, and there hasn't been any change in church policy.
In his comments to the media, Pope Francis also said he's thinking about traveling to the Holy Land next year and is considering invitations from Sri Lanka and the Philippines.