Pope Francis has said the Catholic Church needs to find a ‘new balance,’ otherwise it will lose ‘the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel’.
In an extensive 12,000-word interview with Antonio Spadaro, editor of Italian Jesuit journal La CiviltÃ Cattolica, the Pope shared his vision of what he wants the Catholic Church to be like, now and for future generations.
From sharing his favorite composers to saying he prays when he visits the dentist, the interview also reveals his personal view of how he wishes the Church would address its moral conflicts with homosexuality and abortion.
‘The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,’ Pope Francis said.
‘The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.
‘It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,’ he added.
‘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.’
Pope Francis said he wants the Catholic Church to behave more like a ‘field hospital after battle,’ invoking the helpful rather than condemning nature of the religion.
He said: ‘The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor.’
When asked how he would like the Church to deal with LGBT people disillusioned with the Catholic faith, Pope Francis responded: ‘A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. 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. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.
‘In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. 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.’
The full interview is available online at America, the national Catholic review journal.