Pope Francis has sensationally said the Catholic Church is "obsessed" with preaching about issues like abortion and gay marriage and that it needs to stop interfering.
In an incredibly frank interview with the Italian Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, the Pope said the church has the right to express its opinions but not to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians.
Dismissing critics who say he should be more vocal about fighting abortion and gay marriage, the Pope said the Church "sometimes locked itself up in small things."
Describing his new vision for the church he said: “We have to find a new balance,” saying it should be a “home for all” and not a “small chapel.”
"Otherwise," the Pope continued, “even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.”
He added that women must play a more key role in church decisions but emphatically stated that the "door is closed," on women's ordination.
"The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions," he said. "The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role."
Expanding on the explosive comments he made about homosexuality in July when he was returning to Rome from Rio de Janeiro, where he had celebrated World Youth Day, the Pope said he has no right to judge anyone from the LGBT community.
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he said in the interview.
“I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
In July, he famously said “Who am I to judge” gay people.
Now, he has admitted he has faced criticism, but determinedly insisted that the church's priorities must change to incorporate his views.
“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods," he said.
"I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that."
"It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time," Francis said.