Portland Catholics consider Pope's recent comments - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland Catholics consider Pope's recent comments

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At Wednesday evening mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in NW Portland, parishioners were still digesting the announcement made by Pope Francis just the day before, that 2016 would be a “Year of Mercy,” during which sins of excommunication, such as abortion, should be encouraged to be forgiven.

“One thing this Pope has done from the outset is exhibit a spirit of mercy and compassion,” said Steve Silva, who attended Wednesday services at St. Mary’s.

The Pope’s announcement has been somewhat misinterpreted since it was made, with some people getting the impression that it represents a shift in policy or teaching for the church going forward.  Monsignor Patrick Brennan, Pastor at St. Mary’s, said priests have always had the power to forgive sins.  He sees the Pope’s announcement as much a reminder for priests as it is a way to reach out to those currently outside the church.

“It’s meant to be a time of mercy and justice.  Mercy for those who may consider themselves disenfranchised from the church,” said Brennan. “It’s also a kind of recommendation to priests to welcome them and to treat people with justice and mercy and love.”

In spite of criticism from conservative groups and traditionalists within the church, Brennan said he believes Pope Francis is leading the Catholic Church in the right direction.

“Things go slowly.  You know, Rome thinks in terms of centuries, and what he was accomplished so far, I think is extraordinary,” said Brennan.

Already in his papacy, Pope Francis has overhauled the Church’s financial structure, criticized capitalism and the worship of money, and called on the Church to prioritize service to the poor and needy.

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