Many of us, I suspect, have heard snippets of an interview that Pope Francis did for a series of Jesuit publications. Here are a few of his thoughts, in his own words, writes Ron Rolheiser.
On why our pastoral focus needs to be on healing and not on reiterating certain moral concerns
'I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask an injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the levels of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about something else. ...
'During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.
'A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: 'Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?' ...
'I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and is now happy and has five children. That abortion is her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?
'We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I have been reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.'
FULL STORY Francis, in his own words