Pope Francis has said homosexuals should not be judged or marginalized and should be integrated into society.
In a wide-ranging discussion with journalists during a flight back from a visit to Brazil, Francis said, "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"
But the pontiff also referred to the Catholic Church's universal catechism, which says that while homosexual orientation is not sinful homosexual acts are.
Francis said the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests was definitive, but added he would like women to have more leadership roles in administration and pastoral activities.
The pope arrived back in Rome on July 29 after a week-long tour of Brazil which culminated with a huge gathering on Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach for a world Catholic youth festival.
Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa