Pope Francis

Pope Francis called the gender pay gap a "pure scandal" in remarks Wednesday on marriage and family.

NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports that Francis' remarks, at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, are some of his most forceful yet in favor of women.

Francis raised his voice as he made a plea for an end to the situation in which men typically earn more than women for performing the same task.

The pope's doctors are telling him to lay off pasta and get more exercise.

The Italian news agency ANSA is reporting that the 78-year-old pontiff's doctors told him to get more exercise and cut back his pasta intake to twice a week. But Pope Francis, who reportedly eats a plate of spaghetti every day, has not taken well to the suggestions; one doctor tells ANSA the pope is an "undisciplined" patient.

Pope Francis has maintained high approval ratings even as the Catholic Church struggles with declining membership and the effects of the sexual abuse scandal. In six months, he will make an anticipated visit to the U.S.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

When the College of Cardinals elected the new head of the Roman Catholic Church two years ago, Pope Francis was given the mandate to put the Vatican's dysfunctional administration in order.

As the papacy's enters its third year, some of the biggest reforms have been achieved in the Vatican's finances, long tainted by scandal.

Three days after his election, Pope Francis made clear his vision of what the Catholic Church should be when he exclaimed, "Oh, how I would love a poor church ... for the poor."

In an expansive interview coinciding with the second anniversary of his unexpected election, Pope Francis said his time as the head of the Roman Catholic Church will be brief.

Francis said he misses the relative anonymity he had as a bishop. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, "He also said he doesn't mind being pope, but would like to go out in Rome unrecognized, for a pizza."

The pope's comments came in an interview with the Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

From Rome, Sylvia reports:

In the 21 months since his election, the first pope to take the name of Saint Francis has emerged as a moral leader on the global stage, addressing both Catholics and the world beyond.

A recent Pew worldwide survey showed an overwhelmingly favorable view of the pope. And that was before his crucial role in the U.S.-Cuba thaw was revealed.

Updated at 3:50 p.m. ET

A synod of Catholic bishops gathered at the Vatican has decided to eliminate a landmark opening to gays that had appeared in an interim summary of discussions made public earlier this week that had appeared to signal a possible shift in the tone of the church.

Pope Francis has summoned bishops from all over the world to Rome to discuss issues concerning families – including hot-button issues like artificial contraception and gay civil unions.

The meeting, called a synod, opened on Sunday and is seen as a test of Francis' vision of a more merciful Church.

Not since the landmark Second Vatican Council half a century ago has a church meeting raised so much hope among progressive Catholics — and so much apprehension among conservatives.

A year ago today, the world's 1.2 billion Catholics got their first Jesuit pope and the first from the global south. Taking the name Francis, he soon became one of the world's most popular newsmakers.

Following two doctrinally conservative leaders, the Argentine-born pope's pastoral approach has given the Catholic Church a new glow — less judgmental, more merciful.

Like many others in the big Sunday crowd in St. Peter's square, Sally Wilson is not Catholic, but she came all the way from Beaumont, Texas, to see the pope.

Almost one year to the day since Benedict XVI stepped down as spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the former pope has issued his first public comment on recurring rumors in the Italian media that he didn't resign of his own will.

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