Pope sees scope for pastoral response to contraception ban

In an interview, Pope Francis has discussed artificial contraception, non-marital civil unions, clergy sex abuse and the role of women in the Church.

The wide-ranging interview, marking the first anniversary of Francis’s pontificate, was published in Italy and Argentina.

Pope Francis praised Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae”, which prohibited the use of contraception.

He said Pope Paul’s “genius was prophetic”.

But he also noted that Pope Paul had instructed confessors to interpret his encyclical with “much mercy, attention to concrete situations”.

“The question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do,” Pope Francis said.

The Pope said birth control, like the predicament of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, would be a topic of discussion at the Vatican in October at an extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

Francis says the family is going through a “very serious crisis”.

He also suggested the Church could tolerate some types of non-marital civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care.

But when asked about same-sex marriage, the Pope said marriage is between a man and a woman.

Pope Francis said cases of sex abuse by priests had left “very profound wounds”.

But starting with the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, the Church has done “perhaps more than anyone” to solve the problem, the Pope added.

“No one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked,” he said.

Asked how the role of women will be better promoted in the Church, he was not specific but said: “It is true that women can and ought to be more present in the places where the Church’s decisions are made.

“This, however, I would call a promotion of a ‘functional’ type. Only, in this way, we do not get very far.”

The Pope also rejected a mythology that depicts him as a superman.

The Pope said he is a normal person.



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