Bishop Tobin reacts to Pope Francis’ latest writing

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Pope Francis said Friday that Catholics should rely more on their own consciences than on Vatican rules when it comes to sex, relationships and family life.

The pontiff released a document overnight titled “The Joy of Love” – and while it doesn’t make any radical change to Catholic dogma, the pope is encouraging more tolerance of those with different lifestyles.

Eyewitness News spoke with Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin Friday about the pope’s new guidelines on family life.

In his latest writing, the Holy Father doesn’t condone same-sex marriage or divorce, but he encourages the Catholic Church to be more accepting of people from all walks of life.

“The document’s unique in that it has a unique ability to please and disappoint almost everyone who reads it,” Tobin said.

Tobin said he is still reading the 200-page document – and he is planning to form a task force over the next few weeks to analyze it.

“In the short term, it won’t have any noticeable impact. But I think in the long run, it will have a tremendous impact. This is a blueprint for us going forward,” he said.

Karl Bissinger of Fall River said he’s a practicing Catholic and his cousin is in a same-sex marriage. He said she hasn’t always felt welcome at church.

“I know that at times she’s expressed to me her hope that the Catholic Church might change a little bit,” he said. “This moves a step in the direction that she might welcome.”

Bishop Tobin’s task force will spend the next year reading the document and will come up with recommendations for how the diocese should respond.

“It’ll take a long time to reflect up on this and to understand and reflect on all the challenges the Holy Father has given us,” he said.

Tobin said he doesn’t know how many people will be on the task force – but he said it will be made up of people from all walks of life, including single people, married couples and divorcees.

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