Pope Warns Church Focusing Too Much on Gays, Abortion

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Francis Sets Out Vision of More Welcoming Church, Less Preoccupied With Doctrine.

Pope Francis warned that the Catholic Church had become so focused on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues that it risks overshadowing its pastoral mission, threatening to bring down the church “like a house of cards.”

The pope’s comments, part of a blunt, wide-ranging interview with the Italian Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, didn’t mark a break with church teaching. But they appeared intended to nudge the church away from politically charged issues by setting out a vision of a church that is more welcoming and less preoccupied with emphasizing doctrine.

With his remarks, Pope Francis appeared to put more distance between himself and his two predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II, who vocally reinforced traditional church dogma. Indeed, the interview came amid grumblings from some bishops—particularly in the U.S.—that the new pope has failed to issue strong pronouncements on divisive issues.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” said the 76-year-old pontiff, who came to power in March after the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict.

“The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” he said. “We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”

His comments could signal dissatisfaction with the strong stance some church leaders have taken on the highly charged social issues.

On Thursday, Cardinal Dolan said that the pontiff’s remarks show that “he is a man who profoundly believes in the mercy of a loving God, and who wants to bring that message of mercy to the entire world, including those who feel that they have been wounded by the church.”

He added that he welcomed this “reminder that the clergy are primarily to serve as shepherds.”

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