Pope opens up on gays, abortion and women in the church
In his first extensive interview, Pope Francis has rejected the church's focus on gay marriage and abortion, and called for a more inclusive 'new' church.
Throughout the unprecedented wide-ranging interview which comes six months after the Argentinean Pope's election, he says the Church has become "obsessed" with issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, and calls for a greater role of women in the Church.
In his "optimistic" vision for the Catholic Church, the pontiff warns that without reform, the modern church will crumble "like a house of cards" and warns of "moral consequences" of a closed-minded and obsessive church.
"We have to find balance," he tells America magazine a Jesuit publication.
"Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is like to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant."
In a remarkable shift from the views of his conservative predecessor Pope Benedict, who classified homosexuality as an "intrinsic disorder", during the 12,000 word interview, Pope Francis said the church does not want to make gay people feel "socially wounded", and that he would not judge homosexual people.
"I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are "socially wounded" because they tell me they feel like the church has always condemned them," he said.
"But the church does not want to do this.
"If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge."
As part of his optimistic dream of a modern church, Pope Francis said he did not see the need to constantly discuss issues relating to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraception.
Pope Francis was passionate when speaking about the importance of women in the church, saying the "feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decision", and that women were "essential for the church".
"The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role," he said.
"The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church."
During the informal interview, which took place over three meetings, the pontiff spoke of his favourite author, Dostoevsky, and revealed his love for composer Mozart's works.
The Pope's startling admissions and candid interview aren't the first remarkable moves the Pontiff has made since taking up the position. He has previously spoken out on sex abuse and promised to be a more hands-on leader.