Michiana reacts to Pope's comments on gay priests - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Michiana reacts to Pope's comments on gay priests

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A pope reaching out to gay priests? It may seem shocking, but Pope Francis has taken a stand not to judge homosexuals.

"If a person is gay and accepts the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge them?" That's what Pope Francis told reporters Monday during his return from a week in Brazil.

And his statements have people around the world talking, but Saint Mary's College Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. Joseph Incandela says they aren't surprising. "It's very consistent with one of his dominant themes."

A theme that Dr. Incandela says varies from one pope to the next. For Pope Francis he says the theme seems to be mercy. "I think anything that makes the church more relevant in people's eyes is a positive."

He says the statements may take time to get used to. "When he says things that represent a departure from what you're hearing, you're first reaction is 'wow that's new.'"

And that's the reaction of many folks in Michiana. Some are excited to see the change, others hesitant.

"I just think that once you start opening doors to new change it will start almost like an avalanche effect and everything will start changing and once so much starts changing then you lose the old tradition," says Notre Dame freshman Kirsten Hoffman.

"I think changes are good and with modern times, I mean you've got to keep up with times," says Orlando Baez.

Baez thinks that accepting gay priests will encourage honesty. "It's better to know who is who, instead of keeping it quiet."

But Dr. Incandela says the issue of gay priests is just one topic. "He seems to understand what the problems are and he seems to understand what some of the solutions are."

Dr. Incandela says look for other views to be challenged under Pope Francis' leadership.

While Pope Francis' comments do not mean a change in church policy, it's a big change after Pope Benedict signed a document in 2005 saying men with homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Pope Francis is sticking to his guns on other policies though. He was adamant that women should not be priests, but he hopes to get them more involved in the church.

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