(Update: The Vatican denies that it gives VIP treatment for general audiences. All seats in the so-called VIP section are given to anyone on a first come first served basis. Apparently the AP and Reuters didn’t verify their information. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vip-treatment-for-lgbt-group-at-the-vatican-not-really-72364/ .)
For the first time in history, the Vatican invited a group of U.S. gay and lesbian Catholics to sit in VIP seats at Pope Francis’ weekly general audience February 18. Though the New Ways Ministry group was only recognized as a “group of lay people accompanied by a Sister of Loretto,” the invite was perceived as in line with Pope Francis’ welcoming attitude to marginalized Catholics.
When he was the Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999, Benedict XVI had banned the New Ways Ministry from ministering to gays because the ministry “didn’t sufficiently adhere to church teaching on the ‘intrinsic evil’ of homosexual acts.”
“To me, this is an example of the kind of willingness [Pope Francis] has to welcome those on the fringes of the church back to the center of the church,” said Rev. Robert Nugent, one of the ministry co-founders.
The Vatican is finding ways to bring everyone into her fold.
“All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him.” Revelation 13:8