Pope Francis waves from his car, a Fiat 500, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. 

Pope Francis waves from his car, a Fiat 500, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope’s first visit to the United States. 

Susan Walsh/AP

Pope Francis arrived in the U.S. for the first time today. Yesterday on Think Out Loud, listeners called in to discuss what they thought about his leadership of the Catholic Church:

How has Pope Francis affected the way you experience your faith? What do members of your community think about him?

Craig Boly, pastor at St. Ignatius Parish in Southeast Portland:

“I’m a Jesuit, and the Pope is a Jesuit. Ever since he was elected, we Jesuits have been holding our breath to make sure he was leading in a way that was consonant with our spirituality. The members of my parish are so grateful … he’s a person without fear. When you see the beautiful light of joy in his face, that is what I think is affecting his impact globally, and locally in my own little church.”

Rachel Lucas, cantor at St. Joseph’s Church in Salem:

“The priest at my parish said he was concerned about family values and the Synod of The Family, and possible changes to marriage that might happen. He was concerned that he would be asked to do things that were against his conscience — he was talking about the primacy of conscience, which is part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And the deacon was talking a lot about global warming and the Pope’s encyclical, and encouraging everyone to follow it.”

What do you think of Pope Francis’ emphasis on economic justice and climate change, and a relative lack of emphasis on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage?

Sarah Gross, practicing Catholic and freshman at Reed College:

“He’s definitely taking on issues that matter to the youth of today … I think it’s great. He’s a very prominent figure. I think he has a responsibility as a leader to have opinions on these things, and to voice such opinions.”

Laura Mahoney, practicing Catholic at St. Edward’s Church in Lebanon, Oregon:

“I don’t think the pope has downplayed the problems of gay unions and abortion. I think he has used a different way of talking about them. He has not deviated from Church teaching, as far as I can tell. I think the media has spun what he says.”

Rev. Chuck Currie, minister of the United Church of Christ and chaplain at Pacific University:

“Pope Francis has certainly not changed the doctrine of his church, but he has changed the tone and tenor of his church. He has taken some very strong positions on issues around economic justice and climate change, and those are the areas where we can find common ground … I know we’re not going to agree on every issue, and that’s all right. People of good faith can come to different conclusions on difficult issues.”

What else are you hoping to see from Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., and from his papacy in general?

windance88, commenting on our website:

“I believe that opening up priesthood to women is the key to broader changes within the church. This fundamental imbalance colors all of its bad decisions and keeps it stagnant.”

Season C, commenting on our website:

“As an extra-governmental body with branches in every country, the opportunities for change are unimaginable. I suggest the Pope put his money where his mouth is, and open more hospitals, fund more schools, grant more scholarships, and do all those actions that would help the poor he says he loves so much.”

Charlie Gordon, co-director of the Garaventa Center for Catholic Intellectual Life and American Culture at the University of Portland:

“People often decry hierarchy, don’t they? But one beneficial aspect of a hierarchical system is that it’s susceptible to radical change from the top. With this Pope, we may be in a situation where the hierarchical structures for the Church actually lend themselves to having a powerful impact on Catholics and on the world.”