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Pope Francis seeks historic easing of rigid Catholic doctrine

Last Updated: Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 08:57

Vatican City: Pope Francis has urged a break with the Catholic Church`s harsh "obsession" with divorce, gays, contraception and abortion, in an interview signalling a dramatic shift in the Vatican`s tone.

The Argentine pope has brought a series of fresh perspectives to the notoriously rigid Church since his election in March, and his latest remarks on some of its key doctrines sent shock waves around the world.

"Revolutionary words", remarked Italy`s biggest newspaper Corriere della Sera today, while the International Herald Tribune`s front page headline read: "Bluntly, Pope pushes shift in church."

In the 30-page interview published in Jesuit journals on yesterday, the pope urged "mercy" and understanding for those who often feel most discriminated against by the Church.

"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that," Francis said.

The pope said that when these issues were discussed, they had to be put in context.

"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. 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 -- who has shown a strong reformist drive in his first few months in office -- said the Church needed more than anything to be able to "heal wounds".

On homosexuality he said the Church "does not want to" condemn gays, and that "it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person".

The 76-year-old pope stressed that the Church`s official position had not changed, but said that it should "always keep in mind the individual".

The interview was published after the pope on Monday called for "another way" of treating divorcees who remarry -- a thorny issue since Catholics who wed a second time are currently not allowed to receive Holy Communion at mass.


First Published: Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 08:57
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