Local Catholics speak out following Pope Francis' recent comment - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Local Catholics speak out following Pope Francis' recent comments regarding same-sex couples

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Local Catholics and community leaders are speaking out following Pope Francis' recent comments regarding homosexuality.

"If a person is gay and accepts the Lord, and has good will, who am I to judge them," said Pope Francis in an interview with Jesuit Magazine.

The Pope says the Church has the right to express its opinions, but not to interfere with the spiritually ,"in the lives of gays and lesbians."

Many people were surprised to hear the Pope's remarks on homosexuality.

Many Catholics believe Fracis' words won't change Catholic Doctrine, but may set a new tone of acceptance within the church.

Tim Lilley of the Evansville Catholic Diocese says he's pleased with the work Pope Francis has done during his six-month tenure. He says he's equally pleased with Pope Francis' most recent message.

"He hasn't changed one rule," said Lilley. "He has however, and I think the interview illustrates his challenge to all of us, to all Christians, to take our faith to the street. To minister. To evangelize. To treat everyone we come in contact with, with dignity and respect."

For many years, Catholic Bishops have been on the front lines in the fight against homosexual acceptance.

In an interview on Thursday, Francis called for church officials to be more preacher than bureaucrat.

Dr Robert Dion, who teaches political science at the University of Evansville, says the U.S. Constitution is a living document that favors marriage equality.

Public opinion shapes legislation in this country and the Pope's words may signal a social shift towards acceptance of same-sex marriage.

"The remarkable history of America is we took these beautiful ideas about 'We the people,' and took them from a narrow and a cramped understanding of who the people were," said Dr. Dion. "Over time, we've expanded it to embrace more and more people."

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