Different on pope's message: Some cheer openness, others say church must defend beliefs

Some cheer openness, others say church must defend beliefs

By Linda Moss

The (Hackensack, N.J.) Record

Published: Sunday, Sept. 29 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

In Paterson, Sawey argued that the church had been perceived as being hostile to gays, and that the pope was advocating embracing such outsiders, to bring them into the fold. Tirone said no pope had judged or bashed gays, and she criticized the media for being anti-Catholic.

While stressing that she's not biased, Tirone said gays must be in line with the Catholic dogma in order to receive its sacraments, such as Holy Communion.

"It's not a free-for-all," she said. "This is not, 'Hey, let's eat, drink and be merry, because everybody goes to heaven.' "

Reaction from clergy to the pope's comments was positive. The Rev. William Benedetto of St. Catharine devoted his homilies to the pontiff's remarks at the two Masses he celebrated. He put them in the context of a priest tending to his flock, and the theme of healing that the pope discussed.

Benedetto said that the interview was not an encyclical but an informal talk where the pontiff could speak from his heart and mind.

"It's refreshing to see someone who isn't so guarded, so careful," Benedetto said.

Evans said his parishioners hadn't asked him about the pope's comments.

"I don't think most people even care," the pastor said. "All he said was everybody understands the teachings; let's be about ministry. And he asked priests, be about the ministry. We have to care for the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the imprisoned... For me it's not an issue, because I do that stuff anyway. To me, church is not a theology class. It's to give us nuggets so we can actually chew on it during the course of the week."

Monsignor Ronald Rozniak, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, also said his parishioners hadn't approached him about the pontiff's comments.

"I liked what he said," Rozniak said. "He talks about being a sinner. We're all sinners. We're a church of sinners. And we welcome people and we hope to help them in their journey through their lives. But you don't help anybody by closing your doors."

Nonetheless, the pastor said he was surprised by the bluntness of the pope's comments.

"He has a lot of guts," Rozniak said. "You can see that he's a pastor, that he's accustomed to being a pastor of souls. He really cares about people."

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