Pope Francis continues non-judgement of LGBT people. Will the hierarchy follow his lead?

In an interview with Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal based in Rome, Pope Francis criticized the Roman Catholic hierarchy's focus on persecuting LGBT people, as well as other issues that the hiearachy of the Roman Catholic Church has spoken out against.

Pope Francis is not suddenly changing church teaching to accept LGBT equality. However, he is emphasizing the Catholic teaching to respect the dignity and inherent worth of each person. As a follow up to his "Who am I to judge?" comment in July, Pope Francis offered:

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.

Pope Francis stated that the Church does not need to campaign against LGBT people, abortion and contraception all the time. Doing so actually harms the life and ministry of the Roman Catholic Church.

We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.

The shift in tone is not new for Pope Francis, however that tone has not trickled down to the rest of the Roman Catholic leadership. After his "Who am I to judge?" comment, many American bishops and cardinals scrambled to tell the media that his words were not as LGBT-affirming as they sounded. Some have even openly criticized the Pope for not being more vocally anti-LGBT.

However, Pope Francis' comments are more in line with everyday Catholics in America. According to Public Religion Research Associates, Catholics are the most pro-LGBT Christian denomination, supporting LGBT equality by as much as 73%.

“Pope Francis today opened the door for LGBT people like me, who grow up in the Catholic Church, to be embraced, rather than condemned from afar," said GLAAD National Spokesperson, Wilson Cruz. "Though a growing number of Catholics already support gay and lesbian individuals, this is the first time that a Pope has recognized the harm that the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s campaigns against LGBT people and families have caused. We urge Bishops, Cardinals and Church leadership to listen to today’s message from Pope Francis and join him in putting an end to the rejection and pain that too many LGBT Catholics and our families face.”