Pope Francis said in an interview released Thursday that the Catholic Church's emphasis needs to turn from sexual issues to the ‘freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.’
Pope Francis again signaled a remarkable shift of priorities for the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, saying in an interview released Thursday that the church’s moral edifice would “fall like a house of cards” if it did not prioritize the proclamation of the saving love of God over its current emphasis on dogmatic and moral teachings.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods,” the pope said in an extensive and candid interview published in Jesuit journals in 16 countries, including America magazine in the United States. “The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently.”
“Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: This is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn,” continued the pope, who startled observers in July by saying, “Who am I to judge?” when referring to gays who seek God in good faith. “A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation.”
The current pontiff’s emphasis on the “freshness and fragrance of the Gospel” is a dramatic shift, many observers believe, from that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. A professional theologian who had previously been prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly called the Inquisition), the man earlier known as Joseph Ratzinger had long been in charge of maintaining the doctrinal purity of Roman Catholics.
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