CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) - Pope Francis reached out to the gay community Monday, saying he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation.
Pope Francis' first major news conference of his papacy held a different tone on sexuality than that of his predecessor.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote in 2005 that men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Pope Francis said Monday that gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.
Pope Francis also said he wanted to see a greater role for women in the church, but was firm on the stance that they cannot become priests. Although his thoughts on homosexual clergy have not signaled a change in church policy, some believe it is a step towards a better future for the church.
Emily Horrigan of West Springfield told 22News, "I think it's a great thing. I think it could be really good for the church. I think it will do everything, will make everything more progressive and I think people should get behind it."
When confronted by questions regarding allegations that one of his monsignors was involved in gay relations Pope Francis said it concerned matters of sin and not crimes.
Pope Francis said he regularly asks Benedict for advice but dismissed suggestions that he has any influence on his papacy.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.