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Catholics cheer Pope Francis’ remarks on gays, abortion

Monday, September 23, 2013

NEW YORK — Catholics attending Sunday services around the globe said they were heartened by Pope Francis’ recent remarks that the church has become too focused on “small-minded rules” on hot-button issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives.

Worshippers applauded what they heard as a message of inclusion from the man who assumed the papacy just six months ago.

Catholic Church

Aaron Favila, AP
Filipino Catholics offer prayers during a mass at the Our Lady of Remedies Parish Church in Manila, Philippines Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013.

“I think he’s spot on,” said Shirley Holzknecht, 77, a retired school principal attending services in Little Rock, Ark. “As Catholic Christians, we do need to be more welcoming.”

In Havana, Cuba, Irene Delgado said the church needs to adapt to modern times.

“The world evolves, and I believe that the Catholic Church is seeing that it is being left behind, and that is not good,” said Delgado, 57. “So I think that they chose this Pope Francis because he is progressive, has to change things.”

Francis, in an interview published Thursday in 16 Jesuit journals wor ldwide, called the church’s focus on abortion, marriage and contraception narrow and said it was driving people away.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pope’s words were welcome.

“He’s captured the world’s imagination,” Dolan said after Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. “Like Jesus, he’s always saying, ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner.’”

But Dolan said Francis’ change in tone didn’t signal a change in doctrine.

“He knows that his highest and most sacred responsibility is to pass on the timeless teaching of the church,” Dolan said. “What he’s saying is, we’ve got to think of a bit more effective way to do it. Because if the church comes off as a scold, it’s counterproductive.”

In Brasilia, Brazil, the capital of the country with the largest Catholic population in the world, 22-year-old student Maria das Gracas Lemos said Francis was “bringing the church up to date.”

She said child ren of divorced parents used to be barred from some schools in Brazil. “All that has changed. In Brazil, people are no longer rejected because they are divorced,” Lemos said. “The church has to catch up with changes in society, even if it still doesn’t admit divorce.”

Isaias Miguel Ortiz, a teacher at a private university in the Dominican Republic, took a similar view of Pope Francis’ statements on gays. Although he believes the church will never accept homosexuality, Ortiz said Francis is “getting closer to more people.”

“All the people should be accepted the way they are,” he said.

The pope didn’t say he accepted abortion or homosexuality, noted Martha Fabiola Rojas Lerma, 76, of Mexico City. Rather, he said he wasn’t going to stress those issues.

“It was very correctly well-spoken,” she said. “There’s a lot of injustice. Instead, we should work so that everyone has the basics, shelter, food, clothing.”

In Philadelphia, churchgoer Irene Fedin said priests “should be more focused on helping the person gain a spiritual connection to God instead of just condemning people because of certain actions that they believe are wrong.”

Outside a church in Coral Gables, Fla., Frank Recio said he was grateful that the pope is trying to shift the church’s tone.

“I’m a devout Catholic, always have been. I think the Catholic Church had gotten out of touch with the way the world was evolving,” said Recio, 69, who’s retired from a career in the technology industry.

Recio said he would support changes like allowing priests to marry. “It’s a natural state in life, for men and women to have a partner,” said Recio.

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In Boston, Evelyn Martinez, 26, said she agrees with Francis that compassion should be one of the church’s main priorities.

“I don’t believe that someone’s sexuality should keep them away from any religion,” said Martinez, a graduate student at Emerson College who attended Mass on Saturday night .

Jose Baltazar, a 74-year-old vice president of an insurance company and longtime church volunteer in Manila, in the Philippines, said the pope has set his priorities mindful of stark realities.

“We have to give priority in working to bring those who have gone astray back to the fold,” Baltazar said. “We pray for them. Why did they go astray? What’s our shortcoming? What’s the shortcoming of the Catholic Church?”

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79 more reader comments:

  1. Problem is he is getting a lot of shit from the BIshop’s who refuse to follow. He will wind up assassinated like so many before him.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:44pm
  2. Hmmmmm

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:45pm
  3. I’m an ardent enemy of the Church. I love this Pope.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:46pm
  4. That is because the Catholics are actually above the national average on supporting both issues. Seriously! There have been more than a few polls to show this.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:49pm
  5. I knew it I knew it the Catholics against gays.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:49pm
  6. Well, MOST Catholics maybe. Check out The Catholic Register site – EEek. Heads exploding.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:51pm
  7. The pope rocks! Other denominations are going to have to sit up and take notice. There is a new standard in town and it is Jesus’ Love and Compassion. May God protect him from all who would seek his harm, and bless him with strength to follow Gods calling.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:52pm
  8. i think the catholic church is following, not leading in this issue

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:59pm
  9. It doesn't matter who leads, the point is the Catholic Church is big and its leader is trying to right the ship not win a contest as to who was first. All churches should follow the doctrines of tolerance they purport to support.

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:36pm
  10. Tolerance AS LONG AS THEY DON'T HAVE SEX. Same old Church. He merely said,"let's talk about it a little less." Still anti-gay, still against a woman's right to choose. Still protecting pedophile priests.

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:15am
  11. But a little less talk is a big deal for hard core right wingers. Personally I like not being called names, think about it.

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 3:30am
  12. lol what an amazing man. He tolerates gays wow bahahaha

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 8:46am
  13. @Adrian - So what is it you Tolerate??

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 5:55pm
  14. A Christian acting Christ like? Really?amazing!!!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:58pm
  15. I know right?!

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 5:25pm
  16. they'll take him out....too Christlike...

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:23pm
  17. When did Jesus say gay people will burn in hell for having relations?

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:16am
  18. i agree Fab Karen,He never said that if we're gonna base it on the original version of the scriptures,but on the twisted versions,they tried hard to misinterpret it and blind the majority. :)

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:29am
  19. he may or may not accept gays, abortion etc. but at least he respects that its part of today’s world, and for that.. i must still say thank you haha

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:59pm
  20. @Stephen, Sit up and take notice of what? The American Episcopal Church is lightyears ahead of this. The Rector of my church as well as many priests are GAY. Bishop Gene Robinson is GAY and married to his husband. Our presiding bishop is a woman. We have tons of female Bishops. We are similar to the Canadian and Australian Anglican communions. The British and the Africans communions are still longing to be Roman Catholics.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 2:59pm
  21. I don’t understand how they can be angry with him at all. If he was selected by their god to speak for that same god and they disagree, then they aren’t true believers.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:19pm
  22. I LOVE THE POPE! AMEN!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:21pm
  23. You can’t join our club, but we won’t burn you at the stake. What a progressive guy!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:22pm
  24. Thank you, Bruce Brown!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:28pm
  25. Stupid stupid Catholics

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:32pm
  26. Maybe now they will have time to address more of their problems with molesting children.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:43pm
  27. not all catholic priest molest children and its kinda ignorant for you ta make that statement unfortunately things like that happen in all religions and in places were the wrong adults our in trusted with children. This is a great thing pope Francis is reminding us to hate the sin but love the sinner be Christ like.......but there always has to be one who has something ignorant or negative to say. I will be praying for you that god blesses you and keeps you alway.

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:51pm
  28. Can we address Pope Francis backing a genocidal dictator before papacy or the Vatican covering for and sheltering a mass of molestors that Francis is OK with but hates my sin cause the men I fuck are over the age of 18? Hate the sin and not the sinner is about the same as saying I will pray for you. It is a nice concept but we all know it really means fuck you.

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:18pm
  29. still not enough.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:46pm
  30. Don’t waste your time praying for me Imani. Save it for all the starving children and people who have been preyed upon by religion.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 3:53pm
  31. What difference will it make when we still have old school Catholics and bible thumpers still fueling hate wars

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:16pm
  32. Tell them all not to blink. The pope still thinks females are less human than males and the Roman Catholic Church has not one intention to give away any of their massive wealth to the poor. Fuck the pope.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:16pm
  33. ABOUT TIME!!!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:25pm
  34. The issue of our age is poverty, and corporate greed as well as zealotry, and those are the things we need to fight and focus on. So yes, as a Catholic, I agree with the Pope and I was glad to hear him trying to move the Church from becoming a bad echo of the Evangelical Right in this country.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:35pm
  35. you mean Evangelical REICHT.

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:05pm
  36. Finally a pope that serves his people…not his wallet – he seems a genuinely good guy

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:36pm
  37. except that what this dude who got elected “Pope” said is that the ChristoFascist cult policies about LGBT people & women will remain the same but they just should not talk about it too much or maybe get out of the gay bashing blood money begging business. He also said that he will only NOT JUDGE gay Jesus Freaks but anyone who is not a brainwashed Jesus Freaks He thinks he has the authority to judge because he is under the delusion that he is a god on earth. Don’t CHERRY PICK genocide

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:45pm
  38. Thank God for this Pope

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:46pm
  39. it is enharent goodness of humanity. not a mental delusion. the bible also says that women should be quiet. so if you love your religion so much hush up! self-loathing ruiner of my community. without non-theist people you would not have anything.

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 3:32am
  40. I am getting married in my Episcopal church on November 8, 2014. Mother Susan is marrying my fiancée and I. I am a former Catholic. And I couldn’t be happier. :-D

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 5:21pm
  41. GOOD date....that's my dad's birthday....and i wish you and your love many years of happiness.

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 10:01pm
  42. Gullible people..As soon as he’s willing to sell off part of the Vatican wealth to feed the hungry I might listen to what he has to say, but it’s all lip service because they are losing members.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 5:38pm
  43. he did sell some of his wardrobe for animals when he was first put up.

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:15pm
  44. Pope Francis is truly mending the wounds of the Catholic Church. He wants women in the church, wants gay ministry not too worry (saying he does not judge), isn’t pushy about making abortion a political issue, and Jesus Christ he loves the youthful and impoverished folk. Oh yeah and he’s dealing with pedophiles like Old Testament God. God Bless Pope Francis

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:01pm
  45. tolerance is not acceptance..the pope says leave gays alone as long as gays don’t do anything gay..buullshit

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:07pm
  46. not quite sure that is what he said !!!

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:41pm
  47. that's exactly the message

    Replied on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:46pm
  48. At least he's better than the previous pope.

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 9:30am
  49. how is placating me better? I want honesty..

    Replied on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 5:53pm
  50. Thats Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:39pm
  51. im a lesbian and will start attending service again/

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 7:07pm
  52. He’s bringing us back.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 7:37pm
  53. Christine Ashley..that’s the lamest response I’ve gotten so far. He probably sold items that were unwearable but because they were/are worn by him are worth money to someone.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:19pm
  54. Megan Gray woohoo catholics!!!! :D

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:27pm
  55. ;(((((((((((((((((

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:00pm
  56. Not all Catholics hate gays.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:06pm
  57. I wish people wouldn’t get too excited about him being so great. He didn’t say anything about accepting the lgbt people of the world. All he said is he doesn’t want to judge them. Meaning, he’s neither far to one side or another. He’ll let God judge, sure, but that doesn’t mean he’s wiling to accept people as they are.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 9:43pm
  58. Don’t be fooled, it is still the Catholic Church, still doctrine dictates their actions, but a step in the right direction. Yeah!!

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 10:10pm
  59. he’s a great pope :)

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 10:18pm
  60. But he hasn’t changed the Church’s position. Gays are to be accepted, but they may not have gay sex. Sorry, celibacy may be good for him, but not for me.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 11:05pm
  61. Stupid people. They don’t realize the Pope is trying to distract from the fact that he has made leaking Vatican information (i.e. sex scandals) a crime punishable by up to 8 years in prison. He did that in late June, right after the Rent-A-Boy scandal broke. It’s the same old child raping church, just with a happier face.

    Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 11:15pm
  62. Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:13am
  63. It’s a fancy way for the Catholic Church to continue manipulating people as it always has. Tolerance is one of the most dangerous words as it says I don’t agree with you and I feel forced to accept something I really don’t. I left the church a few years ago for robbing me of my youth because I was made to feel lime damaged goods. It’s not me that’s damaged! It’s the church that’s fucked!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:21am
  64. I’m not catholic… but seeing the pope in the news so much recently with incredibly inspiring headlines such as this makes me want to investigate the religion. Regardless Such an inspirational example of what it truly means to be a Christian and one of gods people.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:23am
  65. Fuck you pope and fuck religion. Have you people forgotten the shit they put us and the world through? I don’t want war against them but I will never trust the cults and priests of religions.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:28am
  66. Gullible fools

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 1:42am
  67. baby steps

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:07am
  68. he see’s the world is changing change with it or die out

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:29am
  69. get rid of religion instead of changing it up. we don’t need it. grow up and use your brains!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 3:30am
  70. The Man who will ‘take down that wall’

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 3:45am
  71. As some hatemongering conservative Catholics on another fb page have been saying, the Church’s teaching hasn’t changed. The church is pretty much split between the traditionalist gay and woman haters, and the liberals.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 6:14am
  72. Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 7:06am
  73. I was raised Jesuit Roman Catholic and have been living my entire life mostly the way he’s been preaching (I’m more liberal than most of them though bwahaha). I’m glad he’s working on bringing back the true meaning of Christianity. <3

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 7:24am
  74. his abd the churches position is that they will burn in hell for all eternity but if a priests who molests children is sincere and repents can go to heaven. it’s all a load if crap. screw these idiots who cares what this business thinks.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 8:44am
  75. A Pope who really cares for the people.

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 10:37am
  76. Perhaps this is the pope that the world needs now: someone to take the Church forward into the light!

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:58am
  77. I don’t know what it means that my first thought when I saw the photo above was…. “why are those women out in public wearing pants…”

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 11:58am
  78. like abused puppies still running up wagging their tails, only to be kicked off the porch again —–sad sheeple

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 12:48pm
  79. but in the same breath he ex^communicates a pro gay marriage priest…..???

    Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 at 2:33pm