Pope Francis waves from his popemobile along the Copacabana beachfront on his way to celebrate Mass in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, July 28, 2013. (Photo/AP Images)

Pope Francis says Church should not “interfere” with homosexuality, gay marriage

In a revealing interview just six months into his papacy, Pope Francis said that the Catholic Church should not “interfere spiritually” on the issues of homosexuality and gay marriage, stating that he wants to change the attitude of the church on these topics.

“Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person,” the pope said in an extensive interview released to international news outlets on Thursday.

The Roman Catholic Church – which has traditionally banned homosexuality and gay marriage – has at times “locked itself up in small things,” the pope acknowledged.

“The people of God want pastors,” Francis added, “not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials.”

The wide-ranging interview – which touched on issues ranging from gay marriage, the role of women and false leaders – was conducted by the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, the editor of La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit journal based in Rome, reports CNN. And it seems that the pope – who shared his position over the course of a three-day interview – was ready to go on the record on issues that have long been controversial for the Church.

Gays and lesbians, the pope told Spadaro, “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” Francis – who told media in July “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay priests – further elaborated on his position on homosexuality.

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“Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person,” shared the pope. “We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”

And while the pope seems, with his comments, to usher in a new era for the church, he warns that he remains focused on spiritual leadership – not theological revolution.

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” said Francis. “I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.”

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

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