TORONTO, September 20, 2013 – There has been considerable press coverage of remarks by Pope Francis that were made during interviews in August in Rome to La Civilta Cattolica magazine. The interview was published in English September 19 in America magazine (see link below).

The Associated Press report, like many follow-up commentaries, emphasized papal remarks that the fundamental teaching of the Gospel is more important than the teaching of “rules”, suggesting that opposition to abortion, contraception or support for traditional marriage should be de-emphasized in the interest of a balanced moral teaching.

“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,” the Pope said in the 12,000-word article, based on interviews conducted by a fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Rome journal for the religious order.

“The Church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules,” 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.”

Pope Francis made it clear that the doctrines of the Church will not change, but the emphasis on the Gospel and a more welcoming attitude could be misinterpreted as a de-emphasizing of moral teachings.

“Nevertheless, this interview reminds all Catholics, especially those advocating on social or moral issues, that the Gospel must be at the heart of what we do,” said League President Philip Horgan.  “Whether we’re working on pro-life, religious and conscientious freedom, defence of family, social justice or charitable concerns, the message of love and salvation must be  at the core of what we do.” 

The following day, Pope Francis condemned abortion as a manifestation of a ‘throwaway culture” in remarks to the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations.

A big heart, open to God, America Magazine, September 19, 2013
Pope warns Church must find balance between rules and mercy, focus less on abortion, gays, AP-Globe and Mail, September 19, 2013

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Catholic Civil Rights League ( assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.

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