Pope Francis: Church's 'obsession' with gays, abortion and contraception means it risks 'falling like a house of cards'

Pontiff also describes himself as a "sinner" in tell-all interview

In one of his most extensive interviews since taking office, Pope Francis has criticised the Catholic Church’s “obsession” with the issues of abortion, gay marriage and contraception.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods… When we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in context,” he said.  Adding that the church should not be “obsessed” with transmitting “a disjointed multitude of doctrines,” Pope Francis said: “We have to find a new balance; otherwise the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”

The Pontiff reflected on his comment “Who am I to judge?” regarding homosexuality when visiting Rio de Janeiro in July and said: “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge... 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.”

The Pope also spoke about the role of women in the church, saying that they had ‘a different make up’ than a man, but that the ‘feminine genius’ was still needed in church decisions.

The revealing interview, in which the Pope also talks about his love of music, literature and films, is the result of a series of talks Pope Francis had in August with Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal.

Pope Francis on himself…

"I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner. Perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve… but the best summary, the one that comes from inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon."

Pope Francis on homosexuality…

"In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. 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?” We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing."

Pope Francis on the role of women in the church…

"I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of ‘female machismo,’ because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo… We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions."

Pope Francis on becoming a Jesuit…

"Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline. And this is strange, because I am a really, really undisciplined person. But their discipline, the way they manage their time—these things struck me so much."

Pope Francis on his style of management when in charge of the Jesuit order in Argentina…

"My style of government as a Jesuit at the beginning had many faults… I found myself provincial when I was still very young. I was only 36 years old. I had to deal with difficult situations, and I made decisions abruptly and by myself.

"My authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions led me to have serious problems and to be accused of being ultraconservative. I lived a time of great interior crisis when I was in Cordova. To be sure, I have never been like Blessed Imelda, but I have never been a right-winger. It was my authoritarian way of making decisions that created problems."

Pope Francis on literature, music and films…

"I have really loved a diverse array of authors. I love very much Dostoevsky and Hölderlin. I have read The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni, three times, and I have it now on my table because I want to read it again. Manzoni gave me so much. I also liked Gerard Manley Hopkins very much.

"Among musicians I love Mozart, of course. I like listening to Beethoven… And then Bach’s Passions. Then, at a different level, not intimate in the same way, I love Wagner. I like to listen to him, but not all the time.

"La Strada by Fellini is the movie that perhaps I loved the most. I identify with this movie, in which there is an implicit reference to St. Francis. I also believe that I watched all the Italian movies with Anna Magnani and Aldo Fabrizi when I was between 10 and 12 years old. Another film that I loved is Rome, Open City [by Roberto Rossellini]. I owe my film culture especially to my parents who used to take us to the movies quite often."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
News
people
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Project Administrator

£16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Administrator is requ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn