As Pope Francis reached out to the gay community, saying he won't judge priests for their sexual orientation, local Catholic devotees -- at least those who would put their name to their comments outside Mass -- applauded him for his honest and accepting manner.
"God created us as equals and as Catholics we believe in welcoming anyone into our church, so it's excellent to hear that he wasn't afraid to say it verbally for the whole world to hear," said Lupe Galindo, 66, as she exited noon Mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church Monday afternoon.
In his first news conference, Pope Francis said gay clergyman should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked during Monday's interview as he returned from his first foreign trip in Brazil.
After reading the Spanish version of Pope Francis's interview, the Rev. Larry Toschi of Our Lady of Guadalupe church said he is very pleased with what the pope said and how he said it.
"He was very clear and we are all sinners and as he said, we don't have the right not to forget," Toschi said.
Although the topic of homosexuality sometimes sparks controversy in Catholicism, Toschi said many people forget that love for our neighbors is most important at the end of the day.
"The church doesn't reject people, it treats everybody with respect and if a person is gay and looking for the Lord, that doesn't mean that person is bad just because of their sexual orientation," Toschi said.
Some people approached by a reporter outside of a noon Mass weren't happy with the Pope's comments, but also declined to give their name.
Joan Battan, 52, a local born and raised Catholic, said Pope Francis was reiterating the message that was established in the Bible that says Catholics are not to judge people but rather live their lives accordingly.
Battan and her daughter Erin Crites, 30, both agreed that Pope Francis has been creating an open discussion about different topics that once might not have been verbalized.
"He is an awesome, humble, devoted and faithful man that is serving as the leader of our church," Crites said.
Pope Francis's personality has caught the attention of many Catholics in his short time in the position, and many see a great future ahead for the Catholic Church.
Debra Rivera, 60, felt that Pope Francis has been guided by the Holy Spirit and will continue to expand his faith in others.
"I'm really happy that he's not marginalizing people because we should all be inclusive," Rivera said. "He is someone who really wants to reach out to the world and his energy and humbleness is really reaching people."