Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New pope to Americans: 'There may be some wiggle room'

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- As Catholics the world over celebrated the anointing of a new pontiff, many wondered about the stances Pope Benedict XVI would take on a host of controversial issues that affect Catholics -- particularly American Catholics, who feel that John Paul II was too strict in his insistence that they abstain from pre-marital sex and attend Mass in an actual, physical “church,” rather than just think happy thoughts on Sundays.

“I consider myself a staunch Catholic,” said Louis Mesker, 25, of Somerville, Mass. “But I question how in touch with its constituents the church can be if it continues to tell us what to do all the time.”

Sarah Loomis, 32, of Great Neck, N.Y., agreed. “I think it’s good for the church to have rules against killing and things like that,” she said. “But I was really hoping the new pope would come around on things like abortion and homosexuality. This is not 1 AD anymore, people.”

“All I know is, something better give,” said Mark Venkman, spokesman for Lighten Up, Catholics!, an organization of sort-of Catholic laypeople who have grown disenchanted with the church the more it gets on their case. “If they’re not careful we’ll stop going to church. Um ... I mean, on Easter and Christmas Eve too.”

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