Francis says Church must shake off obsession with gays, abortion

Home for all

Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic church had grown 'obsessed' with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics. In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a 'home for all' and not a 'small chapel' focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings, reports the New York Times in the Sydney Morning Herald.

'It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,' the Pope told the Rev Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. 'The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.

'We have to find a new balance,' the pope continued, 'otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.'

The interview was conducted during three meetings in August in the Pope’s spartan quarters in Casa Santa Marta, the Vatican guesthouse. Francis has chosen to live there rather than in what he said were more isolated quarters at the Apostolic Palace, home to many of his predecessors.

The interview was released simultaneously on Thursday morning by 16 Jesuit journals around the world, and includes the Pope’s lengthy reflections on his identity as a Jesuit. Pope Francis personally reviewed the transcript in Italian, said the Rev. James Martin, an editor-at-large of America, the Jesuit magazine in New York. America and La Civiltà Cattolica together had asked Francis to grant the interview, which America is publishing in its magazine and as an e-book.

'Some of the things in it really surprised me,' Father Martin said. 'He seems even more of a free-thinker than I thought — creative, experimental, willing to live on the margins, push boundaries back a little bit.'

The new Pope’s words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities.

These teachings are 'clear' to him as 'a son of the church,' he said, but they have to be taught in a larger context. 'The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.'

FULL COVERAGE

Francis says Church 'obsessed' with gays and abortion (NYT/SMH)

Francis says Church must shake off 'small-minded rules' on abortion, homosexuality (ABC)

Francis warns Church must moderate divisive rules or fail (The Herald Sun)

INTERVIEW IN FULL

A big heart open to God (America)

Mass on Demand

home-video-thumbnail

From St Mary’s, North Sydney. The first Mass of the day on YouTube

Mass Online

home-video-thumbnail-nobttn

Live streamed from Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral, Waitara

more

Daily Prayer

Daily Prayer

All your daily readings, reflections and prayers can be found here... 

view