George: Pope’s message ‘encouraging’ but does not ease policies

In his first extended comments on the matter, Cardinal Francis George praised Pope Francis on Sunday for urging a greater emphasis on God’s mercy in the Roman Catholic Church.

But George, Chicago’s archbishop, warned that some had misinterpreted the pontiff’s conciliatory remarks on homosexuality, abortion and contraception.

In an interview published last week, the pope criticized church leaders for too often emphasizing policy on hot-button social issues instead of the broader Catholic message of redemption and mercy. Many gay Catholics and others sometimes at odds with church policy said they were encouraged by the pontiff’s comments.

Pope Francis, however, did not call for any changes to church teachings. Just last week, he met with Catholic doctors and denounced abortion.