Earlier this week, Pope Francis made some statements on abortion, gay marriage, and birth control regarding how the church should soften it’s approach on social issues. Many within and outside the Catholic Church found this controversial while others may welcome the change in tone.

Report from the Chicago Tribune:

Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must shake off an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality and become more merciful or risk the collapse of its entire moral edifice “like a house of cards”.

In a dramatically blunt interview with an Italian Jesuit journal, Francis said the Church had “locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules” and should not be so prone to condemn.

Its priests should be more welcoming and not cold, dogmatic bureaucrats. The confessional, he said, “is not a torture chamber but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”

His comments were welcomed by liberal Catholics; but they are likely to be viewed with concern by conservatives who have already expressed concern over Francis’s failure to address publicly the issues stressed by his predecessor, Benedict.

If the Catholic Church softens on social issues, how does this play in 2016? The stock in candidates like Rick Santorum, perhaps even Rick Perry, might go down considerably.