THE CHURCH OF THE NEW GROOVE: Pope Offers Radical Change on Gays, Abortion, Women

Pope Francis said the Catholic Church should not allow its bans on gay marriage,  abortion and contraception to dominate its teachings, but must be a more  welcoming Church where priests are understanding pastors and not cold, dogmatic  bureaucrats.

In a dramatically blunt interview with Civilta Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit  monthly, Francis said the Church had locked itself up in “small things, in  small-minded rules”. It must find a new balance between upholding rules and  demonstrating mercy, “otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely  to fall like a house of cards…”

Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years and the first from Latin  America, did not hold out the prospect of any changes soon to such moral  teachings.

In the long interview with the magazine’s director, Jesuit Father Antonio  Spadaro, he also said he envisioned a greater role for women in the 1.2 billion  member Church but suggested it would not include a change in the current ban on  a female priesthood.

In an remarkable change from his predecessor Benedict, who said homosexuality  was an intrinsic disorder, Francis 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”.

He re-stated his comments first made on the plane returning from Brazil in  July that he was not in a position to judge gays who are of good will and in  search of God.

In the interview released on Thursday, he added: “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.”

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