Mercy over morality: the takeaway from Pope Francis' message
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - Catholics around the world are reacting to Pope Francis' remarks from earlier this work concerning contraception, homosexuality, and the state of the church - including many Catholic in Southwest Florida.
Father Dennis Cooney is a priest at St. Raphael Catholic Church in Lehigh Acres. He says he was shocked after hearing initial reports on Pope Francis' controversial statements published this week.
"I was confused by some of the reports," said Fr. Cooney.
Those reports concerned the publication of an extensive interview granted by the pope, published in more than a dozen Catholic journals worldwide.
In the interview Francis takes on hot-button topics like homosexuality in the church, contraception, and other moral issues.
The interview with the newly elected leader of the Catholic Church made headlines.
The NY Times wrote "Pope Says Church Is 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control" and the Huffington Post wrote, "Pope Francis: Gays, Abortion Too Much Of Catholic Church's Obsession."
Fr. Cooney read those headlines, and says the publications got it all wrong.
"The people who are obsessed are the people outside of the Catholic Church that misunderstand The Church," said Fr. Cooney.
Fr. Cooney says the pontiff is far from 'Setting a New Direction for the Church' like the Washington Post wrote.
Instead he says Pope Francis is preaching mercy over morality.
"Morality is part of that, but it's not where, shall we say we begin," said Fr. Cooney. "What we would say is new for us is the great emphasis upon God's mercy."
Many like Fr. Cooney are hoping this renewed emphasis on mercy and acceptance is a divine sign that the Catholic faith can begin bringing those who left the faith in recent years, back to the church.
"Gay or straight or has had an abortion or whatever the case," said Fr. Cooney, "God loves them, and is calling them."