NE Ohioans React to Pope’s Comments on Gays

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CLEVELAND – Northeast Ohioans are reacting to comments made by Pope Francis about gays, women in the church and much more on Monday.

“He’s trying to see the dignity of every single individual and so, I think he’s gonna be a great pope,” said Hope Casias, who attended noon mass at Saint John Cathedral in Cleveland.

According to Casias, Pope Francis is the right person to move the church forward and he may have taken the biggest step to date.

While speaking with reporters on the flight from Brazil to Rome, the pontiff shared his feelings on gay people.

“If a person is gay and accepts the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge them?” said Pope Francis.  He added that gays, including gay priests, shouldn’t be marginalized and, “they’re our brothers.”

It’s a big change in policy from previous leaders of the church’s 1.2 billion followers.

“I don’t agree with their stance on most things and I don’t think it’s really gonna change anything, what he said today,” said John Larger from Cleveland, a former Catholic.

Carey Gibbons is openly gay and said she left the church as a child because she felt uncomfortable by the message. “You know, you’re not a good person and I felt like I was, so I didn’t understand why the God I loved was saying I was bad because of being gay,” said Gibbons.

She added, "there’s still a ways to go, but I think that’s a very, very good, good, bold statement.”

The 76-year-old pontiff also addressed another sometimes controversial topic: the role of women in the church. He said they should be more prominent but he will not allow female priests.

Paula Stankiewicz from Cleveland said there’s a simple reason for that. “Well, if Jesus wanted women priests he would’ve made the Blessed Virgin Mary a priest.”

The talk with reporters on the flight home lasted almost two hours.

Pope Francis also said Pope John Paul II will likely be declared a saint early next year.