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Dolan Welcomes Pope Francis’ Remarks On Homosexuality, Abortion

But Cardinal Cautions Comments Not Necessarily A Change In Church's Position
Archbishop of New York cardinal Timothy Dolan arrives at the Paul VI hall for the opening of the Cardinals' Congregations on March 4, 2013 in Vatican City. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Archbishop of New York cardinal Timothy Dolan arrives at the Paul VI hall for the opening of the Cardinals’ Congregations on March 4, 2013 in Vatican City. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Cardinal Timonty Dolan calls Pope Francis a breath of fresh air.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Dolan, speaking after celebrating Mass at St. Patrick’s Church on Sunday, welcomed the pope’s comments last week suggesting the Catholic Church has been too focused on issues such as homosexuality and abortion.

“So, like Jesus, he’s always saying hate the sin, love the sinner,” Dolan said.

Dolan said the church does not first look at people based on sexual orientation. He added that the pope’s comments suggest a change in method, not necessarily a change in principle.

“He knows that his highest and most sacred responsibility is to pass on the timeless teaching of the church,” Dolan said. “What he’s saying is we’ve got to think of a bit more effective way to do it.”

Meanwhile, Catholics attending Sunday services around the globe said they were heartened by Pope Francis’ remarks.

Worshippers applauded what they heard as a message of inclusion from the man who assumed the papacy just six months ago.

“I think he’s spot on,” said Shirley Holzknecht, 77, a retired school principal attending services in Little Rock, Ark. “As Catholic Christians, we do need to be more welcoming.”

In Havana, Cuba, Irene Delgado said the church needs to adapt to modern times.

“The world evolves, and I believe that the Catholic Church is seeing that it is being left behind, and that is not good,” said Delgado, 57. “So I think that they chose this Pope Francis because he is progressive, has to change things.”

Francis, in an interview published Thursday in 16 Jesuit journals worldwide, called the church’s focus on abortion, marriage and contraception narrow and said it was driving people away.

In Brasilia, Brazil, the capital of the country with the largest Catholic population in the world, 22-year-old student Maria das Gracas Lemos said Francis was “bringing the church up to date.”

She said children of divorced parents used to be barred from some schools in Brazil. “All that has changed. In Brazil, people are no longer rejected because they are divorced,” Lemos said. “The church has to catch up with changes in society, even if it still doesn’t admit divorce.”

In Philadelphia, churchgoer Irene Fedin said priests “should be more focused on helping the person gain a spiritual connection to God instead of just condemning people because of certain actions that they believe are wrong.”

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