By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Candid comments by Pope Francis on how he sees the institutional church has sent shock waves through the Catholic world. The Pope’s blunt words — calling for mercy on some of the most polarizing, moral issues of the day are getting wide attention from the people in the pews, to the priests on the altar.
A simple residence, brown shoes and a steel cross told the Catholic world that Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina was shaping up to be an unorthodox Pope Francis. That was six months ago. Today?
“There’s a frenzy now. Everybody is going crazy with his comments,” Bishop David O’Connell said.
Comments that Trenton Bishop David O’Connell says aren’t instant papal teaching, but are breaking new ground.
“He wants to create a home where people feel warmly welcome and feel part of the family, that’s this Pope’s desire,” Bishop O’Connell said.
In a 12,000 word article published in Jesuit Journals worldwide, Pope Francis confronted church teaching on hot-button issues like abortion, homosexuality, divorce, and women’s role in the church.
He said, “The church sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-mind rules.”
He said, “We have to find a new balance or the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”
Louis Bruni of Mercer County agrees.
“We are a growing church, we are a giving church, I don’t think sometimes that message comes out. But I think the Pope is delivering that now and I think that’s good,” Bruni said.
Vatican conservatives have been vocal, even critical of Francis for not sounding a stricter call to towing the Catholic line. Benedict, his predecessor, had appealed for a more observant church, even if it was smaller.
One day after the article became public, in an audience with Catholic gynecologists, Pope Francis urged them to refuse abortions, decisively, and without hesitation.
The interview had been conducted in Italian over three days in August in the Pope’s apartment in Casa Santa Marta, where he’s chosen to live.
Pope Francis did approve the text and a team of five independent experts translated it into English.
When asked to describe himself, he paused and said, “The most fitting description: I am a sinner. Simple and profound in any language.”