The Gay Catholic Voice Ireland (GCVI) has welcomed Pope Francis’s comments made last week on the gay community.

Speaking to a group of journalists during a flight from the Rio de Janeiro World Youth Day to Rome Pope Francis said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?”

The Pontiff added, “The catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalised because of this (orientation) but that they must be integrated into society...The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers.”

In a statement issued by the GCVI they welcomed his comments for two reasons.

“Firstly the pope’s comments accept the existence of gay people as a recognisable part of the Catholic Church community for the first time. This is a significant development from previous papal pronouncements, which have usually referred to a ‘homosexual condition’ rather than a group of people within the church who are gay.”

The fact, “that this is the first time a pope has used the word ‘gay’, a word originating from within the LGBT community, rather than ‘homosexual’, a word originating from the medical profession, in acknowledging gay people as a recognisable and legitimate group within the church.”

They also welcomed the comments “because we believe that it is a small but important step towards undermining the spurious religious legitimacy used to underpin homophobic violence against LGBT people.

“Pope Francis’s comment ‘Who I am to judge?’ in reference to gay people helps to take away the religious cloak of legitimacy from groups who seek to judge and condemn gay people for no other reason than that they are gay.”

“While such judgments and condemnations are still made in Ireland, they are made to a far greater degree in other countries around the world where gay people continue to suffer harsh discrimination because of their sexual orientation. We welcome Pope Francis’s comments as a helpful contribution in this struggle.”