More proof that if there's any Pope that's going to revive the Catholic Church and make it relevant in 2013, it's this Pope.

Today an interview was published in which he criticized the Church for caring too much about gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, and not about other things. He criticized Catholics for sending in pleas to the Vatican for punishment of local priests and nuns. He criticized thinking of the hierarchy of the Church over the people. He criticized making the Church small and pure, instead wanted to include everyone (you know, like the word "catholic" actually means).

“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. “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.

“We have to find a new balance,” the pope continued, “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.”

It feels like every day through the new Pope the Church gets a little bit closer to the words that Jesus (allegedly) said in the Bible and farther away from the shitshow that it's been. Unless there's some miraculous theological shift in how the Church feels about abortion, gay rights, and contraception there's really no chance I would go back to it, but if the Church really has to exist, existing while focusing on poverty and social justice is a far superior way than existing while focusing on moralizing about gay sex.

ETA: Here are some excerpts from the interview, the full interview can be found here.

What should be the role of women in the church?

I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of “female machismo,” because a woman has a different makeup than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo. Women are asking deep questions that must be addressed. The church cannot be herself without the woman and her role. The woman is essential for the church. Mary, a woman, is more important than the bishops. I say this because we must not confuse the function with the dignity. 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.