CHAPEL HILL – The Very Reverend Scott McCue of Chapel Hill’s St. Thomas More Catholic Church says comments made by Pope Francis on Monday about gay people were that of acceptance of everyone.
“I think what the Pope was reminding us of was the need to practice (charity) in all things, so there is no change in church teaching or doctrine on the topic, but rather it’s a reminder, I think, of the need to always treat people no matter who they are with love and compassion,” said Father McCue.
While on a flight back from Brazil, Pope Francis commented on homosexual priests, saying they do not change church policy. Pope Francis said “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
This comment may seem like a new idea for the church, but Father McCue says it isn’t as new as you may think.
Warren Professor of Catholic Theology at the Duke Divinity School, Paul Griffiths, agrees that the Pope is not saying anything new, or against church doctrine, but he says he does think that there is something different about how Pope Francis addressed this question.
“I think it’s surprising because of the directness of tone,” Griffiths says. “We haven’t heard Popes or even Bishops saying things as directly as that about this matter recently.”
He says the tone of Pope Francis has been different from many Popes in the past, and is one of the most recognized features from his comments about gay priests.
“I’d describe it as warm, personal, not concerned with the marks of power and hierarchy,” Griffiths says.
Father McCue says he, too, noticed difference in tone of Pope Francis.
“The thing is, it isn’t a change in church doctrine, but what it is a change, perhaps, in is the tone of things,” Father McCue says. “And you know, there’s always a distinction that we have to make and that everyone is created in God’s own image and likeness.”
Priests have said they agree with the Pope’s comments on homosexuality and like the new way Pope Francis is addressing it. The Pope has been very forward and direct about his ideas and opinions–something that Griffiths says has been rare in recent Popes. He says Pope Francis could be very good for the Catholic Church and help it in many ways.
“Well, from my point of view, I think it’s great,” Griffiths says. “I think this is exactly what the church needs at the moment, and I hope we see more of it. I think he’s going to be, if he carries on like this, a very good thing for the church, no question.”