A report that Francis privately acknowledged the existence of a "gay lobby" in the Vatican offers a sensational example of his unvarnished approach and a reminder of the challenge it poses for the papacy.
On the other hand, an acknowledgment that the Catholic Church's central administration is troubled by factionalism and personal failings must be less than startling to anyone who has been following the news lately.
But the context of the headline-grabbing comment is a series of remarks most illuminating for what they reveal: not about divisions within the church, but about Pope Francis' vision of its harmony and unity.
Pope Francis' words to the leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious, or CLAR, as originally reported on a website in Chile, have not been denied by anyone who was there.
A statement from CLAR -- issued after the Chilean report -- described the leaked account of the June 6 Vatican meeting as a "summary based on the memories of the participants" and a reliable record of the pope's "general meaning," though not a verbatim transcript.
Speaking to his fellow Latin American religious, the first Jesuit pope touched on some of the major points of tension that have marked relations between religious orders and the hierarchy in recent decades. He did so in a manner at once conciliatory and firm, both encouraging and sober in its assessment of the church's problems.
What the Pope's leaked comments really tell us about the Church (Catholic News)