WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — In an historical move, Pope Francis made a comment that supports homosexuality in the priesthood, stating that he will not judge clergy members for their sexual pasts.

The Associated Press reports that Francis made the statement in the form of a rhetorical question while traveling back to the Vatican after his trip to Brazil.

“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” he was quoted as saying.

Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’ predecessor, decreed that homosexual men should not be priests, and signed a document to that effect in 2005. Rather than carrying the torch on the matter, however, Francis instead said that gay men who wish to serve the church should be forgiven.

During the mid-flight press conference, Francis also addressed allegations that one of his monsignors had engaged in homosexual acts — an allegation he said was investigated and found to have no merit.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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