Statements by Pope Francis during a magazine interview have created a spiritual stir among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. In the interview, the pope called for a new balance in teaching about abortion, gays and contraception. Otherwise, the pope said the church "is likely to fall like a house of cards."
Some people think the pope's statements signal a seismic shift in church teaching concerning controversial issues like abortion. But the Sioux Falls Diocese says the pope's comments, taken as a whole, reflect what the church has taught all along.
Worshippers at St. Joseph Cathedral have been reflecting upon Pope Francis' now controversial statements about the current spiritual state of the Catholic Church. Many support the pope's message of reaching out to the faithful.
"He seems to be a man of the people and he's just trying to bring people to the church," Rachel Heikes of Sioux Falls said.
But others see the pope's comments about the church sometimes being locked into "small-minded rules" as softening the church's stance on issues such as abortion.
"The teachings have always been life is precious and abortion is abhorrent as far as I'm concerned and I'm surprised and disappointed that Catholic leaders such as the pope would ever think about saying that," Vince Manipon of Portland, Oregon, said.
But the Sioux Falls Diocese says Pope Francis is not advocating any changes in church doctrine on matters like abortion.
"I don't think there's any change in the position. There's no change in the teaching. The holy father references the catechism multiple times in the interviews that he does and he did in this interview," Sioux Falls Diocese Director of Communications Jerry Klein said.
Klein says it's important to look beyond the controversial statements and focus instead upon the pope's broader message to Catholics around the world.
"I think it's a change in style, in the way it's being taught and if that helps people understand it differently, that's a great thing," Klein said.
Klein says the global attention the pope's interview has generated can get Catholics everywhere to examine their faith more deeply.
On Friday, Pope Francis issued a much stronger statement denouncing abortion, calling it a symptom of today's "throw-away culture."
If you'd like to read the pope's entire message that was published earlier, click here.