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Local Catholics react to Pope's comments

Rochester, N.Y. - Shockwaves from Pope Francis controversial comments continued to shake Sacred Heart Cathedral Sunday morning.

In an interview released Thursday, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church is too focused on divisive issues and needs to look beyond small-minded rules. Specifically, the Pope criticized the church for its concentration on gay marriage, contraception and abortion.

Pastor at Sacred Heart, Father Kevin McKenna said, When you look at the larger picture, I think people are going to see that he's very consistent and he's not saying anything that we should be too terribly angry about.

McKenna said the Popes message changes the tone but not the fundamental teachings of the church.

What I think is changing is compassion toward the people who are either gay or have been marginalized in some way, McKenna said.

Pope Francis comments mark a step in a different direction, shifting the churchs focus from moral doctrines to people. McKenna said, Sometimes we are so absorbed in the red button issues that we lose track, sometimes of issues that are equally important.

Social justice, such as mercy for the poor and outreach to the needy are a few of the teachings that McKenna said get pushed into the background while issues like gay marriage and abortion take center stage.

This Pope is sent by God to help us, give us inspiration, to guide us and lead us in a new directions, McKenna said, where we are going, Im not exactly sure.

In the lengthy interview, Pope Francis said, We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the gospel.

Many parishioners at Sacred Heart were excited by the highly publicized interview. It's like a breath of fresh air for the church, said Kathy Labue, keeping the discussion more centered on people than on condemning people for specific issues and conditions.

Labue welcomes the Popes words of change, even though she said many others are angered by the comments. Labue said, There are a number of that people like to live back and white and something is either right or wrong.

The shift is focus, Labue said, creates a much needed gray area, where its not about who is right or wrong but understanding and helping one another. If you close the gate people can't come in and have dialogue and ask forgiveness or live their life the way god made them, said Labue.

Rachel Glaser, 13WHAM-TV
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