Pope’s words strike a chord in Chicago – Catholics on both sides find encouragement in Francis’ interview

Chris Pett said the Roman Catholic Church became a safer place for gay people like him Thursday after Pope Francis warned that church leaders have become too focused on issues such as homosexuality and abortion at the expense of the church’s broader ministry.

“He spoke as somebody who is more human, and as a pastor, not as protector of dogma,” said Pett, the recent past president of the Chicago chapter of DignityUSA, a gay Catholic ministry not sponsored by the church.

His optimism over Francis’ comments resonated in Chicago among Catholics and observers sometimes at odds with church teachings even as those with more traditional views took comfort in the pope’s emphasis on inclusion and kindness.