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Pope's book details conservative stance on hot-button issues

'On Heaven and Earth' explores abortion, gay marriage

Pope's book details conservative stance on hot-button issues

Rome, April 2 - Intimate details from the life of Pope Francis - from a youthful crush to his stance on same-sex marriage - are laid bare in his book On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century. Available in English May 7, the book was co-authored by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, and is based on hours of conversation between the two religious leaders, touching on subjects like atheism, the Holocaust, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and celibacy. "While I was a seminarian, I was dazzled by a girl I met at the wedding of one of my uncles. I was struck by her beauty, her spirit," said the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. "And well, I was in a state of confusion for quite a while, she made my head spin". Francis, elected March 13 after the abdication of Benedict XVI, goes on to explain how he overcame his feelings and embraced priestly virginity: "I'm in favor of upholding celibacy, with all of its pros and cons, because in 10 centuries of history there have been more positive experiences than negative". The book also underlines his traditional views on controversial topics such as gay marriage. "Homosexuality has always existed, but never in history has anyone tried to grant (gay couples) marital status," he said. His doctrinal conservatism is also apparent regarding women in the priesthood, saying that "woman has another role, which is reflected in the figure of Mary". In keeping with his image as a man of the people, much of the book focuses on helping the poor and "establishing contact with those in need".

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