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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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October 13th, 2014
06:13 PM ET

Priest: New Vatican tone means ‘gays and lesbians are going to feel a lot more welcome’

(CNN) - In a stunning shift, a new Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays.

"Practically speaking it means a lot of gays and lesbians are going to feel a lot more welcome," says Jesuit priest Father James Martin, author of "Jesus: A Pilgrimage."

"The idea of talking about partners is new. The idea of talking about their love in any way in a positive way is brand new, Martin said.

"At one point it says their love is precious," he said.

This is a remarkable shift for the Vatican, which until recently had condemned homosexuality as a sin, so much so that children of gay or lesbian parents, says Martin, have in the past been kicked out of religious schools.

The new report says the children of gay unions should not be punished.

It's unclear where the new tone will lead. What is clear is that Pope Francis is the one leading the charge for these changes.

"He said people should feel free to speak their minds. He really is setting the tone. And once you open up the door to free speech, the Holy Spirit makes its way in and anything can happen," said Martin.

For more of our interview with Father James Martin, check out the video above.

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