Drugs, capitalism, homosexuality – little is off limits for outspoken pope

Story highlights

Pope Francis has astonished millions with his commentary on social, church issues

He's given hope to gays and lesbians with comforting words

And he's poked capitalists who he says are too focused on money

Not even his own church is off limits

CNN  — 

Pope Francis made headlines Friday by coming out against the legalization of drugs, saying “drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise.”

Elbowing out space in the news cycle is familiar work for the 77-year-old leader of the world’s Catholics, whose man-of-the-people style and frank way of speaking have endeared him to millions.

Here are a few of the comments that have generated both praise and criticism:


Nearly a year ago, Francis thrilled the gay and lesbian community when he said of homosexuals, “Who am I to judge?”

He later said the church shouldn’t “interfere spiritually” in the lives of gays and lesbians, who saw the statements as a crack in church’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin.

Francis revisited the issue in a wide-ranging interview released by Jesuit magazines last year.

“By saying this, I said what the catechism says,” the Pope said, referring to the Catholic Church’s book of official doctrine.

The catechism condemns homosexual acts, but says gays and lesbians “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.”

He spoke out again on the issue in March, when he said that economic needs could perhaps justify civil unions for gay couples, even if church teaching still forbids same-sex marriage.

His comments were “the first time a Pope has indicated even tentative acceptance of civil unions,” according to Catholic News Service.

But the Vatican later denied Francis’ comments signaled any change in church policy toward same-sex unions.

Pope Francis’ greatest hits of 2013


At times, Francis has been so critical of the wealthy that critics have taken to calling him a Marxist. He’s lambasted consumerism, chastised people for throwing away food and rapped titans of industry on the knuckles for what he says is an unhealthy focus on money.

The exclusive focus on profits “goes against God,” he said a few months after becoming Pope.

He warned in a major policy document that the “idolatry of money” would lead to a “new tyranny” and questioned “a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.”

Church reform

He has spoken out against slavish attention in the church to issues such as abortion, contraception and divorce, and has criticized it for focusing less on caring for the world than its own preservation.

He’s made suggestions about carving a greater role for women in the church, reportedly told an Argentine woman that her divorce doesn’t precluding her from taking Communion, and famously said a year ago that even atheists are redeemed by God.

Throughout, he’s urged church leaders to relax their focus on doctrine and move into the trenches to bring hope and healing into a broken world.

“I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security,” the Pope said in his statement.

“I do not want a Church concerned with being at the center and then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures.”

Pope Francis: No more business as usual

CNN’s Daniel Burke, Dan Merica, Eric Marrapodi, and Alanna Petroff contributed to this report.