Sioux Falls, SD
Religion isn't always an easy topic to bring up in a conversation. Troubles within a religion can be just as difficult to discuss. Over the last decade, Catholic churches in America have seen a decline in membership of five percent. But now, those numbers could be poised to turn around.
Music has long accompanied religious services, but lately some tunes are changing. It's been just half a year since the installation of Pope Francis, who said then that listening to young people is important.
"Honestly, I am thrilled to have Pope Francis as our Pope. I feel like he is a person who is more down to earth as opposed to a Pope who wants power," Thea Klinnert said.
University of Sioux Falls freshman, Thea Klinnert, has been closely watching the actions of Pope Francis who also raised some eyebrows when he said he doesn't support female priests being ordained.
"The twelve disciples, yes they were male, and so I think he's trying to go back to the roots and saying this is how it was back then, let's stay true to our faith and keep the males in charge of the church. So I don't see that as a slap in the face for females, I see that as him trying to do as Jesus did," Klinnert said.
While Klinnert sees that as staying true to tradition, the Pope has taken a different tone in other areas.
"He's taking us in a whole new direction and I think that's what we need," University of Sioux Falls Junior Chelsey Brown said.
Chelsey Brown joins Klinnert as a young Catholic in support of the Pope who has said the Roman Catholic Church will fall like a house of cards if it doesn't find a new balance and fewer obsessions with contentious issues.
"Pope Francis has taught us to be more open and set an example to be open to others and not be so judgmental. It's not turning against our faith, but not to be so judgmental towards those people," Brown said.
"A lot of people who are Catholic, yeah sometimes they might focus on gays and homosexuals and abortion, but they really forget that we are called to love everyone as Jesus did and they also forget that's not what Catholics are all about. Catholics are about loving everyone and they're about serving God and they're not supposed to focus on the main social issues," Klinnert said.
The two young Catholics also say they hope that the new tone set by the Holy Father makes others more comfortable with them and their views. They also hope Catholic ceremonies are viewed as more inclusive, like this non-denominational service at USF.
"I've heard through my classes here that it is kind of hard to go sit in Catholic church and watch mass because it is so, only Catholics, they said. We're not so welcoming to other people. So I think it really, I hope it is opening our eyes and our arms more for other Christians and non-Christians as well," Brown said.
Overall, these Catholics, who are in the minority at USF, hope this gives one of the most popular religions a shot in the arm.
"Instead of focusing on things such as hatred that the Catholic faith can be stereotyped as, they focus on love and loving everyone and so, definitely coming from a young prospective, that is so much more attractive than focusing on things that we're not supposed to be," Klinnert said.
A national poll released earlier this month found similar sentiment for Pope Francis among American Catholics. The poll said nearly 90 percent have a favorable view of him.
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