The world’s 1.2 billion Catholics have been studying the content of the first major interview of Pope Francis.
In it he warned the church risks the collapse of its entire moral structure “like a house of cards” if it doesn’t shake off its obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.
He wants a new balance between upholding rules and demonstrating mercy.
“I believe that he is the only pope that has had the courage to recognise the problems of the church and to try to face them, to attempt to face problems, to accept situations like homosexuality and marriages that end in separation. All these questions that we cannot hide,” was how one person responded, when approached for comment at random outside the Vatican in Rome.
Another was also positive: “I think this pope is sending messages that he wants to renew the church and I really agree with him. We cannot be anything other than happy with this pope. Finally we have a pope who wants to renew things and I hope he manages to move forward, especially with these ideas.”
Analysts believe that what Francis said in the interview will cause concern in the conservative wing of the church. Just last week one bishop said he was disappointed the pope had not addressed what he called “the evil of abortion” more directly, to encourage anti-abortion activists.