NEW YORK -- Catholics around the globe are reacting mostly positively to Pope Francis' recent remarks that the church has become too focused on "small-minded rules" on hot-button issues like homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives.
At Masses over the weekend, the faithful reflected on how they believe Francis' comments will impact the Catholic Church. The pope said Thursday that pastors should focus less on divisive social issues and should emphasize compassion over condemnation.
Marilyn White, 73, who worshipped Sunday at New York City's famous St. Patrick's Cathedral, welcomed the pope's words.
"I think he sent a good message," White said. "I think he's opening a way for people to communicate, dialogue and maybe come back to the church."
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told reporters after Mass that Francis "speaks like Jesus" and is a "breath of fresh air."
Outside a church in Coral Gables, Fla., Frank Recio said he was grateful that the pope is trying to shift the tone of the church.
"I'm a devout Catholic, always have been. I think the Catholic Church had gotten out of touch with the way the world was evolving," said Recio, 69.
He said he was glad about the way the pope discussed abortion. Recio believes life begins at conception but also supports a woman's right to choose. He also said he'd support changes like allowing priests to marry.
A day after Francis' comments signaling a dramatic shift in Vatican tone, he appeared to offer an olive branch to the more conservative wing of the church by denouncing abortions and stressing the need to defend the rights of the unborn.
Recio said he was glad the pope spoke about abortion Friday, though he personally believes in a woman's right to choose.
Jose Baltazar, a 74-year-old vice president of an insurance company and longtime church volunteer in Manila, said the pope has set his priorities mindful of stark realities.
"We have to give priority in working to bring those who have gone astray back to the fold," Baltazar said. "We pray for them. Why did they go astray? What's our shortcoming? What's the shortcoming of the Catholic Church?"