What the hell is going on in Rome? In his first interview since taking office Pope Francis attacked the Catholic Church’s “obsession” with gay marriage, abortion, and contraception. Yes, the Pope wants to call off the culture war and has essentially labeled those fighting it as deranged.

Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic church had grown “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics.

In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel” focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings.

Opus Dei call your office.

Talk about getting big-footed by a higher authority. Catholic conservatives are truly in a bind as the Pope is, according to their faith, God’s representative on earth. Can they ignore this critique?

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican. “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.”

Amen? What will the new path for the Catholic Church be if the culture war is abandoned?

Many were initially skeptical that the new Pope would be a reformer but these comments combined with a nice word for atheists provides some interesting evidence that this Pope wants to take the Catholic Church in a new direction. The response from the faithful, especially the more conservative faithful, should in theory be to respect the Pope’s authority.

Photo by Casa Rosada under Creative Commons license.