Pope Francis: Who Am I to Judge Gays? Makes big statement on flight back from Latin America By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff Posted Jul 29, 2013 7:45 AM CDT 98 comments Comments Pope Francis disembarks from the plane after landing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at Ciampino's military airport, on the outskirts of Rome, Monday, July 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca) (Newser) – Pope Francis continues to make news by making waves: for assuring the world that atheists can be good people, for blessing leather-clad Harley riders, and, now, for softening the church's position on gay priests. With the ink barely dry on yet another big news moment (he racked up the No. 2 most-attended papal address on record yesterday), Pope Francis boarded the papal plane and gave his first news conference during his overnight flight back to the Vatican. This is the line getting a good bit of attention: "Who am I to judge a gay person of goodwill who seeks the Lord? You can't marginalize these people." The answer came in response to question about a Vatican monsignor who is close to the pope and was said to have had gay sexual relationships years ago; Francis notes that an inquiry into these claims "found nothing." The Wall Street Journal and CBS News stack his comments on gay priests next to previous ones to come from the Vatican (which called homosexuality a "disorder") and Pope Benedict (who in 2005 signed a document stating that men with "deep-seated" homosexuality should not enter the priesthood). One other talking point: On the question of women as priests, Francis gave a firm no, saying the topic was "definitely" settled by Pope John Paul II. Yet, he added, "we cannot limit the role of women in the Church to altar girls or the president of a charity, there must be more."