Pope Francis said he has always been a doctrinal conservative and takes accusations of being a heretic with a grain of salt.
“I have always defended doctrine,” the pope told Mexican reporter Valentina Alazraki in a lengthy interview released Tuesday by Vatican News. “I am a conservative.”
Asked how he reacts to being called a heretic, the pope said he takes it “with a sense of humor.”
Just weeks ago, a group of 19 Catholics, including clergy and scholars, questioned the pope’s theological orthodoxy, accusing him of “heresy” in an open letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church.
“I also pray for them because they are mistaken and I saw poor people, some of whom are manipulated,” the pope said. “I saw who the people were who signed.”
“No, seriously, a sense of humor and I would say tenderness, paternal tenderness,” he said. “I mean, it doesn’t hurt at all. I’m hurt by hypocrisy, lying, that hurts me. But a mistake like that, where there are even people whose heads have been filled with ideas. No, please, we have to take care of them too, we have to take care of them.”
The pope said that his words are often taken out of context, such as his famous line “Who am I to judge?” in reference to a homosexual priest who was trying to live a chaste life.
Francis said that his belief in the immorality of homosexual acts has not changed and that “it is a contradiction to speak of homosexual marriage.”
The pope also said that he misspoke when he said that teenagers who manifest a homosexual tendency should be taken to see a psychiatrist. “I meant to say a professional,” he said.
He also recognized that there are always mistakes in life. “I go to confession every two weeks,” he said. “That is, I make mistakes.”
At the same time, the pope said that his thinking has evolved somewhat.
“I trust that I have grown a bit and become a bit holier,” he said. “People change in life. It’s possible that my criteria have broadened and that seeing the problems of the world I have a greater awareness of certain things that I didn’t have before.”
“I think that in this sense there have been changes, yes. But I am conservative. I am both things,” he said.