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Pope Francis on abortion, gay marriage, priestly sex abuse, and more

Pope Francis tackled many hot-button issues before being elected pope: The practice of shuffling pedophile priests was 'stupid,' feminism is 'machismo in skirts,' priestly celibacy 'could change,' and more.

By Michael WarrenAssociated Press / April 24, 2013

Pope Francis (c.) poses with the Swiss guard band at the Vatican April 23.

Osservatore Romano / Reuters

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina

Before he became pope, Francis spoke his mind about many of the most sensitive topics the Roman Catholic church faces today. Here is a sampling from "On Heaven and Earth," published in 2012, and his authorized biography "The Jesuit," published in 2010 and republished last month as "Pope Francis. Conversations with Jorge Mario Bergoglio."

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PRIESTLY CELIBACY: Roman Catholic priests take vows of celibacy. Some Catholics say they should be allowed to marry, like Eastern Rite Catholic priests.

"For the moment I'm in favor of maintaining celibacy, with its pros and cons, because there have been 10 centuries of good experiences rather than failures. It's a question of discipline, not of faith. It could change."

CLERGY ABUSE: Francis says punishing the priest is more important than protecting the church's image.

"We must never turn a blind eye. ... I do not believe in taking positions that uphold a certain corporate spirit to avoid damaging the image of the institution. That solution was proposed once in the United States: they proposed switching the priests to a different parish. It is a stupid idea; that way, the priest just takes the problem with him wherever he goes."

ABORTION: Francis is against it, from the moment of conception.

"The pregnant woman doesn't carry a toothbrush in her womb, nor a tumor. Science teaches that from the moment of conception, the new being has all the genetic code. It's impressive. It's not, therefore, a religious question but clearly a moral one, based on science."

SEX EDUCATION: Francis is for it, if done holistically, with love and not just sex in mind.

"I think it should be done throughout the growth of children, adapted to each phase. ... What happens now is many of those who raise the banner of sex education understand it as separate from the person's humanity. So, instead of counting on a sexual education law for the entire person, for love, it's reduced to a law for sex."

CONTRACEPTION: Francis thinks many Catholics are too obsessed about it.

"I see in certain illustrious elite Christians a degradation of what's religious. ... They prefer to talk of sexual morality, of everything that has anything to do with sex. That in this case you can do it, that in the other you can't. ... We've left aside an incredibly rich catechism, the mysteries of faith and belief, and end up centering on whether or not to march against a proposed condom law."

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