Valley Catholics reacted favorably Thursday to Pope Francis' comments that the Catholic Church cannot be obsessed with teachings on gays, abortion and contraception.
Kelly Lilles, executive director of Catholic Charities in Fresno, said Catholics are being reminded to show forgiveness.
"Obviously, God calls us to be Jesus to everybody, and we need to be Jesus to everyone," she said. "When you work in social justice and the environment that I do, it changes you. You see a lot of things. You tend to be more forgiving and understanding; that's all I can say."
The Rev. Jim Rude, director of social justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, applauded the Pope's words.
"About gays, he says we must always consider the person," Rude said. "That doesn't say if he is in favor of same-sex marriage, but at least he wants to clear things up, and I am excited about that."
Fresno diocesan chancellor Teresa Dominguez issued a statement on Francis' comments, saying: "The reality is, we are all people of faith before we are anything else. The Pope's messages are deep and rich.
"We need time to take his words into our hearts and reflect upon them so that we may offer an authentic response, individually and as a faith community. It is encouraging to know that we have a spiritual leader who is personally joining us in this Gospel driven conversion of heart."
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