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Pope Francis Criticizes Catholic Church's Focus on Abortion, Contraception

Pope Francis Criticizes Catholic Church's Focus on Abortion, Contraception

September 20, 2013 — In a wide-ranging interview published on Thursday in 16 Jesuit journals, Pope Francis said he has chosen to not publicly discuss abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage because the Roman Catholic Church has grown "obsessed" with preaching about those topics, the New York Times reports.

Some Catholic advocacy groups and bishops have criticized Francis for his silence on the issues -- particularly abortion -- during the first six months of his papacy. For example, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., in an interview with his diocesan newspaper said he was "a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis" for not speaking about abortion.

In the 12,000-word interview, Francis said, "It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time." He cautioned that the church needs to "find a new balance," adding it should be a "home for all" and not a "small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people."

He said, "The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent," adding, "The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."

According to the Times, the interview likely will have repercussions because opposition to abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage are among the top public policy priorities of bishops and priests in several countries, including the U.S.

Francis said that the Catholic teachings on the issue are "clear" to him as "a son of the church" but that they must be taught in a larger context. "The proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives," the pope said (Goodstein, New York Times, 9/19).