Local Catholics react to controversial interview with Pope Francis

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On Thursday, a lengthy interview with Pope Francis was published that some Catholics find controversial.

The new pope surprised members of the Church by saying they have grown obsessed with issues such as abortion, contraception, and gay marriage.

The recent publication has some Catholic Church Parishioners raising eyebrows. Father Paddy Mockler, who pastors Our Lady Fatima in Biloxi, feels the pope is just doing his job.

"He hasn't taught anything new. He's repeating what we've taught and believed for two thousand years. So it's refreshing to hear the pope come out and be so enthusiastic about serving the people," said Mockler.

The former pope, Benedict the 16th, was well known for being vocal about issues such as abortion, gay rights, and contraceptives. Jack Simmons is a Parishioner at Our Lady Fatima. He feels that the new pope's idea to not target any certain issues is a good one.

"He is not focused on one, or two, or three individual concerns of modern religion. The church's teachings have always been the teachings and will always be the teachings," said Simmons.

During the interview, when Pope Francis was asked who he is, he stated, "I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner."

When the article was released Thursday morning, a South Mississippi couple was in Rome. Kay Bankston and her husband said the Catholic community there was rejoicing.

"The spirit was high. There were people so excited about the statements he made concerning what Jesus would say to all of us, and that is to be loving, and forgiving, and not be so judgmental," said Bankston.

Pastor Mockler says just because Pope Francis has not targeted certain issues that the Catholic Church is known for speaking out against doesn't mean they are no longer issues. He feels the new pope is just trying to remind people everyone is a child of God, regardless of their situation.

To see the full interview with Pope Francis, click here.