September 19, 2013
In an interview published in Jesuit journals around the world Thursday, Pope Francis warns the Catholic Church that a continued focus on controversial issues could be detrimental to its foundation.
"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible," he said. "The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."
While his comments are being considered "groundbreaking," "progressive" and "blunt," local Catholics emphasize it doesn't change any fundamental beliefs of the church.
"If he's going to pull away and make it a quieter voice, I think what he needs to do is make one final statement that the church is not backing down on its views -- that it still holds strong to the fact that they don't agree with abortion and homosexuality," said Charlottesville resident Amanda Gingras. "He needs to make a statement that it's not a judgment call."
"I think ultimately the goal is the same -- to make good, faithful Catholics that live according to the church doctrine and beliefs -- but the approach is a little different to try to attract people in there with a softer and gentler means," said Charlottesville resident Andriy Villhauer.
The pope says there is a greater need to make the church a merciful and more welcoming place for everybody.
Villhauer says it's working.
"His attitude of mercy, of service to the poor is really attracting people who are not Catholic, and obviously people who are Catholic," said Villhauer.
"There's a lot of stories about him being out with the common folk, just like the rest of us, and that's where we should be," said Gingras. "We should be tailoring to everyone."
Villhauer is optimistic the progressive approach will have an impact.
"I think you'll see in the coming years a new effort to make an outreach, really reach out to people, look at them not just somebody who has a litany of sins associated with them," said Villhauer. "But really looking at them as human beings that need to be brought back, need to be healed."
To read the interview with the pope, click HERE.