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The television version of Hilary Mantel’s novel Wolf Hall is the latest account to challenge St Thomas More’s reputation as a courageous defender of the rights of conscience. Was he, in truth, a liberal icon, a religious fanatic or something in between?
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Pope Francis has said that the church leadership needs to “take into account people’s situations” and their ability to adhere to the ban on artificial contraception.
A wide-ranging interview with the editor-in-chief of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Ferruccio de Bortoli, is published today. Francis praises Paul VI, who authored the encyclical Humanae Vitae, for defending “moral discipline" but when asked if the Church should rethink its ban on contraception, he replied: “It all depends on how the text of Humanae Vitae is interpreted. Paul VI himself, towards the end, recommended that confessors show great kindness and attention to specific situations.” He added: “The question is not that of changing doctrine, but to go into the depths, and ensuring that pastoral [efforts] take into account people’s situations, and that which it is possible for people to do.”
He added that the subject would be discussed at October’s Synod of bishops on the Family.
The interview was published simultaneously in Spanish in the Argentinian newspaper La Nación and marks the first anniversary of Pope Francis’s election on 13 March 2013.
On the subject of the Church's record on tackling the sexual abuse of children by priests, he claimed that "no one else has done more" to root out paedophilia.
"The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility.
"No one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked," he said.
Asked how the role of women will be better promoted in the Church, he was not specific but said: “It is true that women can and ought to be more present in the places where the Church’s decisions are made. This, however, I would call a promotion of a ‘functional’ type. Only, in this way, we do not get very far: We need to consider that the Church takes the feminine article,” he said. Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and the Council of the Laity that he heads, is working on the question with many women experts, he added.