Pope Francis' Monday comments about not judging gays have been met with as many positive reactions as skeptical ones in LGBT communities.
"If a person is gay, and looks for the Lord and had goodwill, who am I to judge them?" Pope Francis said at a news conference concerning a so-called "gay lobby" in the Vatican.
These comments made international headlines and were called a positive step toward inclusion, though some have cautioned that the pontiff's remarks merely reflect his personal openness, and will not lead to a change in policy.
"On a scale of zero to 10 about where we need to be, that's moving from about zero to three as opposed to nine or ten," said Mark Dowd, a former UK friar who left the church after coming out as gay. Dowd added that the pontiff's remarks made for "a nice headline" more than anything.
Still, zero to three is still the first couple of necessary steps, say other LGBT activists.
"If someone loves the Lord and has goodwill -- the reality of that describes an awful lot of LGBT people," said Marianne Duddy-Burke of Dignity USA, a group of LGBT Catholics.
"There are a lot of LGBT people of faith who are working very hard to hold onto their faith and I think it would be important for us to bring our stories to the pope and other church leaders to move this conversation forward."
Further, even if Pope Francis' gay comments aren't an endorsement of the homosexual lifestyle, they go a long way toward cooling negative attitudes and seeking common ground of some kind with LGBT individuals.
"I sense what he is saying is that we are all children of God and we need to treat each other that way regardless of our sexual orientation," said Mary Ellen Lopata, who runs a Catholic parents of LGBT children networking ministry.
"If that is indeed what he is saying, I think that is a good step forward for reconciling with gay and lesbian people around the world, and also their families."
What do you think of Pope Francis' gay comments? A first step to inclusion, or simply a "nice headline?"
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]