Obama ‘hugely impressed’ by Pope Francis

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US President Barack Obama says he’s been “hugely impressed” by Pope Francis’ recent remarks admitting the Roman Catholic Church was “obsessed” with preaching about abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception.

“It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,” Pope Francis told La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal last month. “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,” he added: “We have to find a new balance,” adding, “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.”

Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday, President Obama said: “I tell you, I have been hugely impressed with the Pope’s pronouncements”.

Mr Obama said the Pope was “first and foremost thinking about how to embrace people as opposed to push them away. How to find what’s good in them as opposed to condemn them.”

He added: “That sense of love and unity seems to manifest itself in not just what he says but also what he does.

“That’s a quality I admire.”

Speaking to reporters in July during a plane journey back to the Vatican following his trip to Brazil, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.

It was a departure from a more strident tone – if not in doctrinal position – as he also referred to the Catholic Church’s universal Catechism, which states that while being gay is not sinful, homosexual acts are.

The following month Pope Francis was named “Man of the Year” by the Italian edition of Vanity Fair.

Paying tribute to the Catholic leader, Sir Elton John said Pope Francis “is a miracle of humility in an era of vanity”.