From Vatican Radio:
Less than two weeks shy of one year on from his election as bishop of Rome, Pope Francis describes himself as, “A man who laughs, cries, sleeps well and has friends like everyone else.” It is the self-description the Holy Father offered to the editor-in-chief of the Italian daily, Corriere della sera, Ferruccio De Bortoli, in an interview appearing in the paper’s Wednesday, March 5th edition.
The Pope’s wide-ranging conversation with the veteran journalist covers themes from bioethics, to styles and modes of Church governance, to his friendship with and esteem for his predecessor, Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI.
Some of the strongest remarks concerned the role of women in the Church. “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: We need to consider that the Church takes the feminine article,” he said, “She is feminine in her very origins (It. dalle origini).”
Asked whether it might perhaps be time to take up once again the question of artificial means of birth control, Pope Francis praised his predecessor, Paul VI, who authored the encyclical Humanae vitae, saying, “His genius proved prophetic: he had the courage to stand against the majority, to defend moral discipline, to exercise ‘brake’ on the culture, to oppose [both] present and future neo-Malthusianism. The Holy Father went on to explain, “The question is not that of changing doctrine, but of going into the depths, and ensuring that pastoral [efforts] take into account people’s situations, and that, which it is possible for people to do.”
CNS has more:
Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of nonmarital civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care. He also said the church would not change its teaching against artificial birth control but should take care to apply it with “much mercy.”
Pope Francis’ words appeared in an interview published March 5 in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
In the wide-ranging conversation with the paper’s editor-in-chief, Ferruccio de Bortoli, the pope defended the church’s response to clerical sex abuse and lamented that popular mythology has turned him into a kind of papal superhero. He also addressed the role of retired Pope Benedict XVI and the church’s relations with China.
“Matrimony is between a man and a woman,” the pope said, but moves to “regulate diverse situations of cohabitation (are) driven by the need to regulate economic aspects among persons, as for instance to assure medical care.” Asked to what extent the church could understand this trend, he replied: “It is necessary to look at the diverse cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
Bishops around the world have differed in their responses to civil recognition of nonmarital unions. The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family said in February 2013 that some legal arrangements are justifiable to protect the inheritance rights of nonmarried couples. But until now, no pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions.
In the interview, Pope Francis praised Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which prohibited the use of contraception.
In contradicting contemporary pressures for population control, Pope Paul’s “genius was prophetic, he had the courage to side against the majority, defend moral discipline, put a brake on the culture, oppose neo-Malthusianism, present and future,” Pope Francis said.
But he also noted that Pope Paul had instructed confessors to interpret his encyclical with “much mercy, attention to concrete situations.”