The gay governor of Italy’s Puglia region, Nichi Vendola, has commented on Pope Francis’s interview this week, during which he appeared to be further softening his stance on gay issues.

On Thursday, the Pope said the Roman Catholic Church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception – and that he was choosing to avoid discussing those subjects.

Responding, Vendola, the leader of the SEL party, said: “In the face of despair of the world – despair that is the result of the (economic) crisis, poverty and scarcity – Pope Francis has recovered rare examples of vocabulary that give us hope for change on the horizon.”

Back in January, the openly gay Italian Governor said that he would like to have the “right” to get married to his partner in front of his “community and family.”

Speaking on Italian radio, Governor Vendola, said he had lived with his Canadian partner for years, and that he would like to get married to him.

Speaking to reporters in July during a plane journey back to the Vatican following his trip to Brazil, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.

It was a departure from a more strident tone – if not in doctrinal position – as he also referred to the Catholic Church’s universal Catechism, which states that while being gay is not sinful, homosexual acts are.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” Pope Francis told La Civiltà Cattolica – after being asked about July’s comments. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”

Three years ago as cardinal he warned that efforts to legalise equal marriage in Argentina would “confuse and deceive the children of God.”

In June, Pope Francis warned the French against following “fashionable ideas” in relation to the country’s equal marriage law.