In a 12,000 word interview with Italian Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, Pope Francis furthered his reputation as World's Coolest Pope by correctly noting that the Roman Catholic Church has become “obsessed” with preaching against abortion, gay marriage, and contraception.

From the interview, published in English in America Magazine:

“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. 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.

Nothing worse than losing the fragrance of the Gospel. Later in the interview, he reiterated his view of homosexuality.

A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘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?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy.

(Unless, of course, that person wants to get married, in which case the Church must wage a "War of God" against him.)

These relatively progressive statements come on the heels of other relatively progressive statements and actions, like when he said the “role of a woman doesn't end with being a mother and with housework,” or the time he dared to wash the feet of two women as well as two Muslim inmates. Other recipients of Pope Francis's good will include atheists, motorcycles, gay priests, and nuns who successfully pray away chronic diarrhea.

Diarrhea miracles aside, Pope Francis's statements in the interview are important and will hopefully help the Catholic Church move past some of its more controversial and backward concerns. From the New York Times:

The new pope’s words are likely to have repercussions in a church whose bishops and priests in many countries, including the United States, often appeared to make combating abortion, gay marriage and contraception their top public policy priorities.

[Image via AP]