WINDSOR TERRACE - An exhaustive new paper issued Friday by Pope Francis advises Catholic leaders about how to deal with a number of potentially controversial family issues.
In the 256-page document titled "The Joy of Love," Pope Francis made no change to church doctrine. Still, he urged priests across the world to be more accepting of homosexuals and divorced people.
"He's asking us to take people where they're at, not where we want them to be," said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. "I think that's a major change."
The shift is meant to welcome Catholics who may have felt ostracized in the past. The approach means that perceived sins may be recognized, but sinners shouldn't be despised.
Some Brooklyn Catholics agree. "No matter what your views are, what you decide to do with your life, church is a place where you should be able to go and feel accepted and not feel unwanted," said Caitlin Hickey, of Windsor Terrace.
The Brooklyn Pride organization said, "While we should understand the fine line that Pope Francis has to walk, and appreciate the small steps forward he is taking, we cannot ignore the hurt and scarring caused by those throughout the extreme religious communities."
Pope Francis acknowledged that attitudes vary by region and that priests should make decisions that suit their local culture.
"Some cultures are more open to other people and other ideas. Some are more closed," says Bishop DiMarzio. "Some are a little more dormant. They don't have the activity, the excitement."