I'm not a superman, Pope Francis says

Wed Mar 5, 2014 8:08pm EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has played down the notion that he is a "superman" who will bring sweeping reforms to the Roman Catholic Church, stressing that its ban on contraception and opposition to gay marriage will remain in place.

The pope, in an interview with Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper published on Wednesday, also said no institution had moved with more "transparency and responsibility" than the Church to protect children in the wake of its sexual abuse scandals.

That prompted a sharp rebuke from victims, with one group calling the assertion "disingenuous".

Since his election nearly a year ago, Francis has promoted the idea of a more humble Church focused on the needs of the poor, winning huge popularity and raising expectations that it would soften its rules on such issues as contraception, cohabitation, sacraments for the divorced who remarry, and gay relationships.

Asked what he felt about his celebrity status, Francis said he disliked the "mythology" of him as a man who could meet all expectations.

"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said.

Francis made clear he did not envision changing the Church's stance on such issues as the ban on artificial birth control enshrined in Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).

A synod of bishops to be held in October would discuss ways of applying and explaining it better, he said, calling the encyclical "prophetic and courageous".   Continued...

 
Pope Francis walks as he arrives to lead the general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican March 5, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi