Pope Francis’ comments Thursday that the Catholic Church should be less dogmatic touched off a range of reactions around the world and in the Triangle.
Three Raleigh moms think the pope’s words are a good sign that their sons will grow up in a more inclusive society.
“I think it’s really good, and I think we should be more open minded since it’s 2013,” Maria Keeney said.
Arielle White agreed. “I think it will draw some people to the Catholic Church that have previously felt unwelcomed and shunned.”
But Laresa Watkins, mother of toddler Maddie, is concerned the pope is moving away from the traditional teachings of Christianity.
“I think that he's wrong and the church should not make compromises and try to be politically correct,” Watkins said.
In a 12,000-word article, Pope Francis laid out his vision for the church and warned that its moral structure might "fall like a house of cards" if it doesn't balance divisive rules about abortion, gays and contraception with the greater need to make it a merciful, more welcoming place for all.
Tom Stanley, a lifelong Catholic who lives in the Triangle, believes many people are misinterpreting what Pope Francis is saying.
“To be a homosexual is not a sin,” said Stanley, 71. “The church feels to practice homosexuality is a sin. He believes the doctrines of the church, he espouses them and he will uphold them.”
Stanley believes Francis still supports the rules of the church as they apply to homosexuality, abortion and contraception, but the pope simply wants those who disagree to consider returning to Catholicism.
“The church, nevertheless, and God loves those people, love them no matter what they are doing, no matter what they've done, and he wants them to understand that,” Stanley said. “Please come back to the church. Let's talk. Let's have an open dialogue about things.”
The LGBT Center of Raleigh, which advocates for the rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered people, lauded the pope's vision as one of greater tolerance.
"The center's hope is that Catholic members of our community who have felt pushed aside due to their sexuality will be able to find many more accepting parishes where they are allowed to be who they are and feel embraced by their religious community,” the center said in a statement.