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Catholics React To Pope: 'Who Am I To Judge' Homosexuals?

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The leader of the Catholic church makes what some are calling shocking comments about homosexuals and the church.

Monique Griego has reaction from local Catholics.

This is still a very hot topic in the church. That's why the Pope's comments seem to have shocked a lot of people. When it came to the issue of gays, he simply said, "Who am I to judge?"

Pope Francis shocked reporters with surprisingly candid comments about gays and the church. Speaking in Italian, the Pope said, "If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

While he also said homosexuality is a sin, the Pontiff went on to say, "They shouldn't be marginalized and should be integrated into society."

Many Catholics believe his words show a new acceptance for homosexuals and gay clergy.

"We haven't seen a statement like that ever," said Francis DeBernardo, executive director for New Ways Ministry. "For decades, we've only heard rejection, stony silence about lesbian and gay issues coming from the Vatican."

New Ways Ministry is a coalition of Catholics that support the gay and lesbian community.

"He is setting an example for discussion of these issues. He is in essence giving permission for Catholics to be more open and welcome," DeBernardo said.

But for local church leaders, the Pope's words have different meaning. In a statement to WJZ, the Archdiocese of Baltimore said, "The Pope spoke with compassion and understanding while at the same time reaffirming the teaching and practice of the church."

The diocese also didn't believe the Pope was talking specifically about gay priests.

Some parishioners agreed, saying his words didn't stray from what the church already teaches.

"That might be misinterpreted by liberal Catholics in this country saying he's giving his blessing to gay marriage or things like that," said Matthew Heimbach.

During his interview, the Pope also talked about the issue of women becoming priests.

The Pope made these comments on his way back from speaking at World Youth Day in Brazil.

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