In a recent interview with an Italian publication, the Pope said that the Church had “locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules” and should not be so prone to condemn.
He suggest that priests should be more welcoming and not bureaucrats. The confessional, he said, “is not a torture chamber but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better.”
Pope Franscis insisted that church can share its views on homosexuality, abortion and other top-discussed issues, but should not “interfere spiritually” with the lives of same sex unions, the pontiff added in the interview, which was published in La Civilta Cattolica.
“We have to find a new balance, 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,” Francis said in the interview.
“The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,’ Francis said. “The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
Francis went on, adding that the Church now needs to find a perfect balance between upholding rules and demonstrating mercy. “Otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”
To the contrast to his predecessor Benedict’s remarks, which claimed that homosexuality was an intrinsic disorder, the new pope said that when homosexuals told him they were always condemned by the Church and felt “socially wounded”, he told them “the Church does not want to do this”.
“This pope is rescuing the Church from those who think that condemning gay people and opposing contraception define what it means to be a real Catholic. It’s a remarkable and refreshing change.”
The pope’s comments of the issue came after his remarks in July when he was asked about gay priests.
“Who am I to judge?” the pontiff answered at the time, making front-page headlines. In Thursday’s interview, Francis clarified his position, saying:
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he said to Jesuit priest Fr. Antonio Spadaro, who conducted the interview for La Civilta Cattolica.
“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.”
During the interview the pontiff was also asked on the role of women in the Church, to which he replied:
“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.”