Italo Catellani, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Lucca, has spoken in favor of a cultural revolution within the church to accept gay men and lesbians.

Speaking to reporters, Catellani called for a shift in the church's stance.

“If all the flowers were the same, fields would lose their beauty,” said Catellani, 70, according to a translation provided by the blog Agere per Formulas.

“Gay. Well, I must confess, when I use this word it seems that there is an intrinsic judgment yet. I struggle to use it. Therefore, we need a cultural transition, because difference is wealth. What matters above all is the dignity of the person.”

“And I wonder why young people consider the church to be 'homophobic,'” he added.

Pope Francis has called on the church to place less emphasis on its opposition to abortion, contraception and gay marriage.

Earlier this month, the pope suggested civil unions for gay couples might be acceptable to the church, though the Vatican has said that Pope Francis was not discussing same-sex unions.