VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - "Pope Francis said on Monday that Catholics should not give “excessive
importance” to certain Church rules while disregarding others, urging opponents of abortion to show equal passion for the lives of the poor and oppressed.
The pope made his appeal in a major document known as an Apostolic Exhortation called “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and be Glad), a 100-page booklet on how people can be holy in a modern world filled with secular distractions and materialism.
In it, he urged people to try to be “the saint next door” by doing good and living the Gospel as best they could, keeping charity and mercy, rather than rigid rules, at the center of their lives.
He said sainthood was not only for bishops, priests and nuns or those “swooning in mystic rapture” but also for people living ordinary lives, with small gestures, patience and love.
But he also appeared to take a dig at those conservatives who swear by the rigid letter of doctrine and “the thicket of precepts and prescriptions” while not always showing mercy or compassion for individuals.
“Not infrequently, contrary to the promptings of the (Holy) Spirit, the life of the Church can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few. This can occur when some groups of Christians give excessive importance to certain rules, customs or ways of acting,” he said.
Since the start of his papacy in 2013, conservatives have criticized Francis, accusing him of not defending moral teachings such as those on abortion, homosexuality and divorce as strongly as his predecessors."