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Redmond priest reacts to pope's comments on gays

By Joe Burns
Published On: Jul 29 2013 09:10:41 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 31 2013 01:53:11 AM CDT

The pope makes surprise comments about homosexuality, NewsChannel 21 gathered local reaction.

REDMOND, Ore. -

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after a week-long trip in Brazil, and on his flight back, he made a statement to reporters that's causing quite a buzz.

NewsChannel 21 wanted to get local reaction to his comments.

It was a question concerning a gay lobby in the Vatican.

Pope Francis responded: "If someone is gay, and he accepts the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"

But is the pope changing the church's stance on homosexuality?

Pope Francis pointed out Catholic doctrine says gays and lesbians shouldn't be marginalized.
 
Father Todd Unger of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Redmond told NewsChannel 21 the Catholic church has always taught that Jesus is the one who will judge.

It's the latest comment from Pope Francis that some say is exactly what Francis has been doing in his first months of his papacy: showing compassion.  

"He's not changing any doctrines of the church or the teaching  -- rather he just comes from a different style, or pastoral style," Unger said

Unger says the pope speaks with more of "what comes from the heart."

"A pastoral approach is, 'Where is my heart, and how is my heart reaching out to these people!'" Unger said.

Church leaders say Francis's trip is being overshadowed by that one comment.

And Francis had a lot more to say during his week-long trip in Brazil then just about homosexuals.

The pope encouraged bishops to be less office-minded and more pastoral.

"Bishops -- leave your chancelleries, leave your cathedrals," Unger said, reciting what the pontiff said. "You need to go out and be with the people."

The pope also discussed the role of women in the church, saying he wants to have more roles for them -- but still not be ordained as priests.     

"You need both male and female, so it's always looking for good leadership roles," Unger said.

For some Catholics, the pope's recent comments are really representing a universal church.

"The church is made up of many diverse people, and he wants to say the church is open and welcoming to all people," Unger said. "I think, by his style, he is showing that to us."

The pope told the young audience at World Youth Day about the need for holy people in all areas of their lives, including those that are "not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends."

That's certainly something that appeals to many of us here in Central Oregon.

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