Catholics reflect on Pope’s example

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - OCTOBER 02: Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square for his weekly audience on October 2, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. During the audience the Pontiff said the Church is not without sin because it is made up of sinners. Priests, sisters, bishops, cardinals and even Popes are sinners. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Pope Francis broke with Catholic tradition again during the Holy Week, washing the feet of ordinary people, instead of members of the clergy.

It’s just one way the Pope moved away from tradition in his first year, and in the U.S., Catholics seem to like it. A Pew Research Survey shows 71 percent of American Catholics see Pope Francis as a change for the better.

At St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Portsmouth Easter Sunday, attendants seemed excited about the changes he’s brought.

“I was probably away from the church for about five, six years,” said Katie Shaw, who grew up in a Catholic family and has started coming back since Pope Francis took over. “I think more forgiveness and acceptance is what he’s about, and I think that’s what makes it easy to come back home.

David and Xuan Arnette agree. They think Pope Francis will bring more people to the church, especially the younger generation.

“I think he’s very accepting of the modern world and the culture,” said Xuan Arnette. “I always laugh when people say they’re taking selfies with the Pope, because he knows what that is, and he’s more accepting of people with, I guess, different beliefs, like he’s more accepting of the gay population as opposed to past popes.”

“I think if Jesus loved everybody, the best way to reach out to more people is to truly embrace that and be accepting of people, whether or not their views or their lifestyle [are] traditional,” said her husband, David Arnette, who is Episcopalian but attends Catholic services.

Now that she’s back, Shaw even finds her fellow Catholics to be more like the Pope, himself.

“People seem to be kinder. Everyone seems to be nicer, almost like – it’s easier to be kind when you’re following someone who’s kind,” she said.

Father David Cupps of St. Paul’s said while people seem to have taken notice of Pope Francis’s example, he has not seen higher attendance overall.

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