Posted at: 09/23/2013 12:38 AM
| Updated at: 09/23/2013 9:53 AM
By: Steve Flamisch
ALBANY -- When Pope Francis told a Jesuit magazine that the Roman Catholic Church should be a "home for all" and "cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods," his comments resonated with local parishioners.
Several Catholics, speaking before Sunday evening Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Downtown Albany, told NewsChannel 13 the pope's message was on the mark.
"I think that makes a lot of sense," the Rev. Paul Smith, who celebrated the 5 p.m. Mass, said outside the cathedral. "I notice that he didn't say that those issues were unimportant and that they deserve no focus -- he didn't say that -- but he wanted to balance it."
In a lengthy interview published Thursday, Francis told the magazine America, "We have to find a new balance, otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards."
"I think he was right," parishioner Andrew Lauria said. "The church's fundamental goal is for the salvation of souls, and so we have to do that in a particular manner, and that starts first by taking care of people."
A day after the pope's comments were published, Francis denounced abortion and the “throw-away culture” that justifies it.
Francis, who made headlines in July by saying "Who am I to judge?" when asked about a gay priest, spoke broadly about homosexuality in the magazine interview.
"When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love or reject and condemn this person?" he asked. "We must always consider the person."
Mary Martin, an Albany parishioner who noted that Francis "seems like a grandpa" to her, said she agrees with his assertion that such controversial issues should not dominate the conversation.
"We have other things to think about," Martin said. "Those people should take care of themselves by shaping up... the ones who are going into homosexuality and all those things.”
Martin continued, “That's their business, but I don't think we should have it spread all over the newspapers for children to read and wonder what that is and try it."
ROLE OF WOMEN
Though Francis said he does not support the ordination of women priests, he told the magazine, "Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church."
Smith, in Albany, said he welcomed the possibility.
"I hope that he would do some reversal as far as just giving consideration and taking a long look at women as priests, which is only one part of that issue," Smith said.
The Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests recently ordained an Albany woman, Mary Theresa Streck, but the Catholic Church does not recognize her as a priest.
Bishop Howard Hubbard was not available to comment Sunday on the pope's recent remarks.