Pope Francis sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic church Thursday with a published interview in which he criticized the church for putting dogma before love, and moral doctrines over serving the poor and marginalized, according to reports.
He said the church had become “obsessed” with abortion, gay marriage, and contraceptives.
He also stated that while the church has the right to express its opinions, it does not have the right to “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians.
He warned that if the church fails to find a “new balance” between its spiritual and political missions, its moral foundation will “fall like a house of cards.”
The pope spoke of his vision of an inclusive church, a “home for all”. His vision was in sharp contrast to that of the previous pope, Benedict XVI, who was a doctrinal defender who envisioned a smaller, purer church.
Francis said to the interviewer, a fellow Jesuit, “It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. 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”.
“The church has sometimes locked itself up in small things,” the pope said, “in small-minded rules”, the pope added.
“The people of God want pastors,” Francis continued, “not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”
While the pope’s remarks do not change church doctrines or policies, it instantly changed its tone.
The pope’s words evoked gratitude and hope from many liberal Catholics who have felt left out in the cold for decades under the previous papacies of Benedict and John Paul II.
The interview was given weeks ago and was released Thursday by Jesuit journals around the world. Image/