Local Catholic Leaders Praise Pope Francis

Just six months into his papacy, comments from Pope Francis already hint toward a possible shift in focus at The Vatican.

"He's certainly, I don't know, more open to acceptance without judgment," said Winsted resident Jane Williams.

In an interview published this week in Jesuit journals, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church has been consumed with "small-minded rules," comments that parishioners like Williams believe to hold true.

“I think that they’re appropriate," Williams said, of the Pope's assertions. "It just gives more room for mercy."

That said, the Pope is not condoning issues like abortion and gay rights. He is, however, calling for balance and stressing compassion over condemnation.

"I'm hoping people are more open," said Constance Rotondo from Avon.

Monseigneur John McCarthy celebrated the noon mass at the Cathedral of Saint Joseph in Hartford, where the Pope's comments were a topic of conversation.

“I think he’s calling for really a change in emphasis," McCarthy said after the service.

In his message at mass, McCarthy reminded the faithful that aside from government, the church is the largest provider of social services for the public.

Archbishop Henry Mansell from the Archdiocese of Hartford said in a statement released Friday morning:

“I am not surprised by Pope Francis’ comments. He said, 'The teaching of the church is clear' on the issues of abortion, homosexuality and contraception. At the same time, he is calling on us to widen the focus of our energies. He is motivating Catholics to become a more active, united, compassionate, and merciful people. He wants the Church, for example, to help those people who are suffering from injustices such as: homelessness, sickness, unemployment and war."

McCarthy welcomed the Pope's ideas, saying, “I think what he’s saying is that there’s so much more to the church than some of the issues that always seem to be the most talked about.”

It's a move they hope will make more people feel welcome in the church.

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