At this bookstore near the Vatican, the manager says the latest hot title is a 12,000-word interview with Pope Francis published in a Jesuit Journal.

(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) BOOK STORE MANAGER, MARCELLO, SAYING:

"I am getting continuous requests for it, even by telephone,"

That's because in the surprisingly candid interview, Pope Francis says the Catholic Church should get over its obsession with moral issues like abortion, contraception and homosexuality…

…and become more welcoming, including of groups like gays.

Liberal Catholics welcome the message.

(SOUNDBITE) (Italian) CATHOLIC MAN, CARLO MAIGNEILLO, SAYING:

"I think this pope is sending messages that he wants to renew the church and I really agree with him. We cannot be anything other than happy with this pope, finally we have a pope who wants to renew things."

But few people think the Pope's openness actually means a change in church doctrine towards divorce, or gay people, including priest and Spanish journalist Antonio Pelayo.

(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) PRIEST AND JOURNALIST FOR SPANISH TELEVISION ANTENA 3, ANTONIO PELAYO, SAYING:

"He is changing how we look at these people. It is as though being merciful is more important than affirming the doctrine of the church. This is the important thing, not the change in doctrine."

And yet the message is blunt.

The Church must become more merciful, says the Pope. if it doesn't he says it risks seeing its moral center collapse - as he puts it -- "like a house of cards".

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