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NY Bishop: Pope was 'on a high'

(CNN) - The nation's leading Roman Catholic archbishop said Wednesday that Pope Francis was "on a high" from his first international trip as pontiff when he said "Who am I to judge?" gays and lesbians.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who traveled last week to Brazil with the pope for World Youth Day, said the massive turnout - estimates ran as high as 3 million - and ecstatic crowds likely gave Francis hope that he would "revive the church on his home continent of Latin America."

Francis was the archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina from 1998 until his papal election in March.

"The pope was visibly 'on a high' from his first international pastoral visit in Rio," Dolan said. "Understandably so. Because I was there with him, I can verify that the superlatives being used — 'oceanic' crowds, 'frenzied' welcomes, 'inspirational, heartfelt' words — are not exaggerations at all."

On the plane from Brazil back to Rome on Monday, the pope gave an 80-minute press conference in which he addressed a number of controversial issues for the Catholic Church, including homosexuality, the ordination of women and scandals involving a so-called "gay lobby" at the Vatican.

Regarding gay priests, Francis said, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

The remarks were read by some as a rejection of previous church policy, including a 2005 directive that barred men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" from the priesthood.

Not so, Dolan said on Wednesday in a blog post.

"No change in church teaching here . . . or no intended 'correction' to a more 'dour' approach by his predecessors," said Dolan.

In fact, the archbishop continued, Francis does not have the power to change church doctrine.

"Catholics know that the pope, like all of us, is a servant of the truth of the Gospel, not a crafter. Doctrine is a given; it is settled, inherited, faithfully passed on. That’s his duty, and he’s sure doing it well."

 
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