Pope bluntly urges church to ‘find a new balance’

In an interview published today, Pope Francis says the Roman Catholic church has grown “obsessed” with gay marriage, contraception and abortion, topics he has deliberately avoided during these first months of his papacy. The New York Times reports:

In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. “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.

“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “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.”

Read the pope’s interview in America magazine here. Read the full New York Times story here. And Jesuit writer Fr. James Martin offers his take on this at America magazine:

Part of the Jesuit spiritual tradition—indeed, the Christian spiritual tradition—is an “examination of conscience,” or more generally an examination of one’s moral activity. Here you can see the leader of the Catholic church doing just that.

To my mind, the church is in good hands with someone able to examine his conscience not only honestly but in the most open way imaginable–in a worldwide interview.

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