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Pope Francis greets the faithful prior to his first 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica during Easter Mass on March 31, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.
It's clear right from the start that Pope Francis' views on social issues are markedly different from his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In an lengthy interview in La Civiltà Cattolica, a Jesuit magazine, the pontiff has laid out his vision and priorities for the Catholic Church. One thing he wishes to see is for the Vatican to devote less attention on abortion and gay issues. "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," he told the magazine. Pope Francis has made headlines before for what could be described as his unorthodox views on controversial issues.
In May, he defended atheism and suggested that the gates of heaven are open to atheists who perform good deeds. In July, he told reporters that it was not up to him to judge priests for being gay as long as they are searching for god. "This Church with which we should be thinking is the home of all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people. We must not reduce the bosom of the universal Church to a nest protecting our mediocrity,'' he told La Civiltà Cattolica. Pope Francis’ statements have divided everywhere.
Do his views signal a change in theological policy for the Vatican? What do you think of the Pope’s more liberal stance?
Rocco Palmo, commentator on the Catholic Church and author of the revered blog “Whispers In The Loggia” (pron: LO-juh)
Father Thomas Reese, senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter, and author of “Inside the Vatican: The politics and organization of the Catholic Church”