Pope Francis quotes: Six of the best

Pope Francis gestures as he talks with journalists on the flight from Manila to Rome - 19 January 2015 Pope Francis has made several comments that have raised eyebrows since assuming the papacy in 2013

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Pope Francis has never strayed far from the headlines since his inauguration as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church in March 2013.

The first Pope born in the Americas, albeit to Italian parents, is in a job that guarantees the attention of the world's media, but even so, many of his statements have raised eyebrows.

The former teacher and nightclub bouncer, born Jose Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936, may have only been in the job for less than two years, but he has already racked up an impressive litany of quotes.

Rabbits

One of Pope Francis' most notable statements is one of his most recent. Returning to Rome from the Philippines, he was asked about families having more children than they can afford to raise.

The Pope responded that just because God gives somebody the right to conceive, that right does not necessarily need to be exercised without restraint.

"Some people think that - excuse my expression here - that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Parenthood is about being responsible. This is clear," he said.

Packing a punch

The recent attacks on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo ignited a passionate debate about freedom of speech across Europe and the wider world.

Speaking to reporters last week, the pontiff implied that it was not unreasonable for those who cause great offence to face a violent reaction, despite this contravening Catholic teaching.

Pope Francis on the papal plane with his assistant On freedom of speech, Pope Francis said anyone insulting his mother could "expect a punch"

"It is true that you must not react violently, but... if [somebody] says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch, it's normal," he said. "You can't provoke, you can't insult the faith of others, you can't make fun of faith... in freedom of expression there are limits."

A Vatican spokesman qualified this, saying the remarks were not "intended to be interpreted as justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week."

'Infertile grandmother'

Start Quote

If [somebody] says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch, it's normal”

End Quote Pope Francis

During an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg in November 2014, Pope Francis turned heads when he used an evocative metaphor to lament increasing bureaucracy within the European Union.

"We encounter a general impression of weariness and ageing, of a Europe that is now a grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant," he said.

The Supreme Pontiff also spoke out about the number of people dying as they try to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East, warning that "we cannot allow the Mediterranean Sea to become a vast cemetery."

Reserving judgement

Although he has spoken many times of his opposition to gay marriage, Pope Francis hit the headlines during his first post-inauguration foreign trip with a statement which stunned many Catholics.

Flying back to Rome from Brazil, he remarked to reporters: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"

Pope leaves Brazil After his inauguration, the Pope called on Catholic leaders to "choose a more humble" lifestyle

Gay rights advocates received this apparently groundbreaking statement with caution, however. Whilst criticising an ultimately successful motion to legalise gay marriage in Argentina in 2010, the then Cardinal Bergoglio called the proposal "a destructive pretension against the plan of God... that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."

'No Catholic God'

In 2013, during a discussion on religion with the co-founder of Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Eugenio Scalfari, who is an atheist, Pope Francis criticised what he called a "Vatican-centric" perspective among some of the Catholic clergy, saying this "neglects the world around us".

He said: "I believe in God, not in a Catholic God, there is no Catholic God, there is God and I believe in Jesus Christ, his incarnation."

'Blinging bishops'

After his inauguration, the Pope declined the usual papal living quarters in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, instead opting for a more humble abode, and has emphasised the need for modesty among the clergy.

The pontiff said he was "hurt" when he saw a priest or a nun driving the "latest model car", urging members of the clergy to "choose a more humble one". "If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world," he added.

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