Following Pope Francis’s remarks in a lengthy interview about Catholics not limiting themselves to discussion on abortion, several area Catholics voiced different reactions.

The Rev. Joseph Daniels, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Waterville, said within Pope Francis’s lengthy interview Thursday is the idea that Catholics shouldn’t try to comprehend a moral issue in a vacuum. He said the pope’s comments don’t depart from current theology, but rather emphasize a holistic approach.

“I think he’s trying to say to not firmly focus on a single issue and lose the broader context of what it means to be a follower of Christ Jesus,” he said.

Daniels said it’s traditional for the pope to make statements that address the issues of the day with theology in a practical matter. He said its too early to tell whether the pope is heading toward making any fundamental changes to teachings.

“As the Vatican sees certain questions arise, it comments there with application of church teachings. With new problems arise new issues in church teaching,” he said.

In the six months since Pope Francis was elected, Daniels said, his parishioners have been receptive overall to Francis’ approach and his statements.

“Generally speaking, they’ve responded very positively to his warm, accessible and personal style,” he said.

Pat Truman, a Catholic and Hallowell resident, said she had not seen the pope’s comments because she was busy organizing a Saturday brunch for the Pro-Life Education Association, said the conservatism of Pope Benedict XVI was more in line with her own views.

Truman said she appreciates Pope Francis’ outreach to poor and marginalized people, but she also wants him to uphold the moral traditions of Catholicism.

“They are very important issues,” she said. “We don’t mess with marriage.”

Frank O’Hara, a Hallowell resident who was the spokesman for Catholics for Marriage Equality, said he was encouraged by the pope’s comments, though he’s unsure whether a change in emphasis will lead to change in policies.

O’Hara said he hopes more people will come to understand the “deeper principles” of Catholicism, which he said are not about sexual morality.

“It’s not what the Catholic Church is about,” O’Hara said. “Maybe he will return the focus to what our core message of love is about.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645
[email protected]

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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