Bakersfield monsignor agrees with pope about gay priests

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) - Monsignor Michael Braun of Bakersfield's Our Lady of Perpetual Help said he believes Pope Francis is a pope of a different breed.

"I don't think this is a pope that's going to say something and then come back and say, 'Well, I didn't really mean it,'" Braun said.

The monsignor was referring to comments the pope made to journalists aboard the papal plane on a return flight to the Vatican.

The pontiff was responding to reports of a gay lobby in the Vatican:

"Everyone writes about the gay lobby, I still haven't found anyone who gives me an identity card in the Vatican with gay written on it. They say that there are these people. I think when someone finds themselves with a person like this, they need to make a distinction between being a gay person and that of being part of a lobby. All lobbies are not good, that is the bad thing. If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"

The pope also said the church should not allow women in the priesthood, but that they deserve another role.

Braun said the pope's comments do not conflict with the Catholic Church's teaching. In fact, he said they reinforce them.

"We do have priests that are gay, and we do have parishioners who are gay. They have the same obligations that any person has to live a life that reflects the gospel, and because their orientation is such doesn't mean that they don't have the same rights and responsibilities," Braun said.

The Diocese of Fresno also agrees with the pope, saying in a statement that orientation is not what matters most, but conduct.

"The pope's statements are all in conformity with what the Catholic Church teaches regarding homosexuality," according to the Diocese of Fresno. "All people, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are to be treated with respect and dignity. In regards to priests, all are called to celibacy and chastity in all relationships, regardless of whether they are heterosexual or homosexual by orientation."

Some local parishioners feel differently, saying gay priests should not be allowed in the church.

"I don't think that there's any exception for a gay priest," said Patty Gaskin, a parishioner at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. "It says in the Bible that is not right, so why should there be any kind of movement for a gay priest?"

Still, Braun said he believes local parishioners should have no problem accepting the pope's comments.