In new book, Pope Francis explains vision of compassionate Church

Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:17pm EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis calls in a new book for Roman Catholic leaders to be compassionate shepherds to a "wounded humanity", not lofty scholars quick to condemn and exclude people who don't obey Church teachings.

The book, "The Name of God is Mercy," breaks no new ground but is a compelling restatement of the themes of Francis' papacy told in simple, breezy language in a freewheeling conversation with veteran Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli.

In the 150-page book, Francis also repeats his often-quoted "Who am I to judge?" statement about homosexuals, saying that "people should not be defined only by their sexual identities."

The question-and-answer book, to be released on Tuesday, coincides with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, during which the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics are called on to seek forgiveness and forgive.

In his first book aimed at a general readership, Francis appears to chastise conservatives in the Church, saying they are undermining mercy in the name of doctrine.

"The Church does not exist to condemn people but to bring about an encounter with the visceral love of God's mercy," he said, adding that "humanity is wounded, deeply wounded".

Francis criticizes those in the Church "who are only used to having things fit into their pre-conceived notions and ritual purity instead of letting themselves be surprised by reality, by a greater love or a higher standard."


Pope Francis speaks during a mass at St. Mary Major's Basilica in Rome, Italy, January 1, 2016. REUTERS/ Tony Gentile