Slatest PM: Pope Francis Decries Church's Focus on Gays, Abortion

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 19 2013 4:11 PM

Slatest PM: The Pope's Frank Talk on Gays, Abortion

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Pope Francis waves after his general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on September 18, 2013

Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Let's Be Frank: New York Times: "Pope Francis, in the first extensive interview of his six-month-old papacy, said that the Roman Catholic Church had grown 'obsessed' with preaching about abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he has chosen not to speak of those issues despite recriminations from some critics. In remarkably blunt language, Francis sought to set a new tone for the church, saying it should be a 'home for all' and not a 'small chapel' focused on doctrine, orthodoxy and a limited agenda of moral teachings. 'It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time,' the pope told the Rev. Antonio Spadaro, a fellow Jesuit and editor in chief of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Italian Jesuit journal whose content is routinely approved by the Vatican."

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A Few Key Snippets—

On Abortion, Gay Marriage, and Contraception: "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."

On Women's Leadership: "We must therefore investigate further the role of women in the church. We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman. Only by making this step will it be possible to better reflect on their function within the church. The feminine genius is needed wherever we make important decisions. The challenge today is this: to think about the specific place of women also in those places where the authority of the church is exercised for various areas of the church."

On How He Sees Himself: "Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon." More snippets over at Washington Post; full interview here.

It's Thursday, September 19th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Navy Yard Update: CBS/AP: "A review of video evidence that captured Monday's deadly shooting massacre at the Washington Navy Yard showed that the former Navy reservist who investigators say gunned down 12 people didn't appear to target anyone in particular, FBI Director James Comey said Thursday. ... Comey said the review found that 34-year-old Aaron Alexis didn't appear to be looking for any particular person or group during his rampage. Instead, the FBI director said that Alexis, who died in a police shootout, didn't appear to say anything and just started shooting in Building 197. He followed no discernible pattern, appearing to simply look for people to shoot as he walked through the hallways with a sawed-off shotgun. Monday wasn't Alexis' first time in Building 197. Comey said investigators found that Alexis, who had been working as a contractor for an IT firm, had worked in the building recently on a server project."

What Washington Is Up To: Reuters: "Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday plowed ahead with a bill to gut President Barack Obama's healthcare law while temporarily funding other government programs, ignoring a warning from the White House that the measure would be vetoed. The bill, which would keep the government running through December 15 and avert shutdowns with the start of the new fiscal year on October 1, faced its first test vote in the House on Thursday with passage of the measure expected on Friday. ... In a terse statement, the White House said the House bill would be vetoed 'because it advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class.'"

A Silent NSA Watchdog: USA Today: "The Justice Department's internal ethics watchdog says it never investigated repeated complaints by federal judges that the government had misled them about the NSA's secret surveillance of Americans' phone calls and Internet communications. Two judges on the court that oversees the spying programs separately rebuked federal officials in top-secret court orders for misrepresenting how the NSA was harvesting and analyzing communication records. In a sharply worded 2009 order, one of the judges, Reggie Walton, went so far as to suggest that he could hold national security officials in contempt or refer their conduct to outside investigators. The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility ... said in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by USA TODAY that it had no record of ever having investigated — or even being made aware of — the scathing and, at the time, classified, critiques from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court between 2009 and 2011."

Rebels vs. Rebels: Wall Street Journal: "An al Qaeda spinoff operating near Aleppo, Syria's largest city, last week began a new battle campaign it dubbed 'Expunging Filth.' The target wasn't their avowed enemy, the Syrian government. Instead, it was their nominal ally, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army. Across northern and eastern Syria, units of the jihadist group known as ISIS are seizing territory—on the battlefield and behind the front lines—from Western-backed rebels. Some FSA fighters now consider the extremists to be as big a threat to their survival as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. 'It's a three-front war,' a U.S. official said of the FSA rebels' fight: They face the Assad regime, forces from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and now the multinational jihadist ranks of ISIS."

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate

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