“The Catholic Church doesn’t judge homosexuals,” he said, “it judges the homosexual act.”
Shirley Thomas of St. Jude’s Parish in Londonderry said the pope is being true to the Bible.
“According to the Bible, we’re not supposed to judge anybody,” Thomas said. “I can’t blame him for quoting from the Bible.”
Catholic women are eager to hear more about what the pope has in mind for them.
“I’d like to know what he means by a bigger role,” said Ann Morrier of St. Anne’s Parish in Hampstead.
Morrier agrees with the pope about not ordaining women as priests.
“If you didn’t have male priests, there wouldn’t be a man in the building,” she said. “Women’s natural spirituality overruns the place.”
Ryan said she doesn’t expect women priests in her lifetime, but sees an opportunity for them to do more in worship.
“I think the role for women will be more in eucharistic services,” she said.
Those are services lay people can lead, distributing Holy Communion after a priest has previously consecrated the host.
“If they are allowed to perform eucharistic services that would be absolutely fantastic,” Ryan said.
Dunne said Francis is upholding what every other pope has said about women priests since St. Peter and is really suggesting a greater role for women at church levels such as parish councils.
Catholics are giving good reviews on the pontiff to their pastors.
“Everything that I am hearing from my parishioners is positive,” the Rev. Bruce Czapla of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Derry said.
“The reaction has definitely been positive,” agreed the Rev. John Michalowski of Saints Mary and Joseph in Salem. “People are excited.”
Michalowski describes Francis as warm, human and energetic.
“He’s opening doors to a lot of people in the church,” he said.