Pope Francis I says the Catholic Church should distance itself from an obsession with teachings on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.
The pontiff said the church must become more merciful or risk the collapse of its entire moral edifice "like a house of cards."
In an interview on September 19 with the Italian Jesuit journal "Civilta Cattolica," Francis said he envisioned a greater role for women in the 1.2 billion-member church.
However, he suggested that role would not include a change in the current ban on female priesthood.
The pope said Catholic priests should not be cold, dogmatic bureaucrats, and added that the confessional "is not a torture chamber."
Francis's approach contrasts starkly with that of his conservative predecessor Benedict, who stepped down in February.
Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters