Pope Francis Concedes Surrogacy Could Be a Woman's Only Hope but Says It's 'Not Authorized' by Catholic Church

"Sometimes surrogacy has become a business, and that is very bad," the head of the Catholic Church said on '60 Minutes' on Sunday, May 19

<p>Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty</p> Pope Francis

Vatican Media via Vatican Pool/Getty

Pope Francis

Pope Francis is speaking out in a historic interview about the Catholic Church's stance on surrogacy.

During a sitdown with Norah O'Donnell for 60 Minutes on Sunday, May 19, the head of the Catholic Church, 87, candidly addressed the topic of allowing people, particularly women who cannot have children themselves, to use surrogates in order to become parents.

"In regard to surrogate motherhood, in the strictest sense of the term, no, it is not authorized." the pontiff said, translated from Spanish. "Sometimes surrogacy has become a business, and that is very bad. It is very bad."

When asked by O'Donnell about situations when surrogacy is a woman's "only hope" — such as cancer survivors — Pope Francis conceded, "It could be," before noting, "The other hope is adoption."

"I would say that in each case the situation should be carefully and clearly considered, consulting medically and then morally as well," he continued.

<p>60 MINUTES</p> Pope Francis and Norah O'Donnell


Pope Francis and Norah O'Donnell

"I think there is a general rule in these cases, but you have to go into each case in particular to assess the situation, as long as the moral principle is not skirted," he said, before addressing O'Donnell's concerns about surrogacy for cancer survivors directly. "But you are right. I want to tell you that I really liked your expression when you told me, 'In some cases it is the only chance.' It shows that you feel these things very deeply."

Pope Francis also spoke about one of the Catholic Church's most uncomfortable and widely-criticized scandals of the past several decades — child sexual abuse. He has long been vocal about wanting retribution against religious figures involved in such acts, and he told O'Donnell that the Church "must continue to do more."

"Unfortunately, the tragedy of the abuses is enormous," he said. "And against this, an upright conscience and not only to not permit it but to put in place the conditions so that it does not happen."

<p>60 MINUTES</p> Pope Francis shakes hands with Norah O'Donnell


Pope Francis shakes hands with Norah O'Donnell

Pope Francis also clarified his thoughts on the Church's progress surrounding the scandal after O'Donnell quoted one of his previous comments, in which he said the Church should have "zero tolerance" for these crimes.

"It cannot be tolerated," he reiterated. "When there is a case of a religious man or woman who abuses, the full force of the law falls upon them. In this there has been a great deal of progress."

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<p>Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty</p> Pope Francis

Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Pope Francis

Related: Pope Francis Clarifies Blessing Same-Sex Unions — 'That Cannot Be Done' — But Says 'Everyone' Can Be Blessed (Exclusive)

Elsewhere during the broadcast, Pope Francis clarified his position on allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples after he said last year that allowing same-sex couples to be blessed is “an expression of the Church’s maternal heart."

"What I allowed was not to bless the union. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament. I cannot. The Lord made it that way," he said. "But to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone. For everyone."

"To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, the law of the Church. But to bless each person, why not?" he added. "The blessing is for all. Some people were scandalized by this. But why? Everyone! Everyone!"

When O'Donnell, 50, recalled a past statement made by Pope Francis in which he said that "homosexuality is not a crime," the religious figure responded in agreement, saying, "It is a human fact."

<p>Dan Kitwood/Getty</p> Pope Francis

Dan Kitwood/Getty

Pope Francis

Related: Pope Francis Condemns Anti-Gay Laws Around the World: 'Being Homosexual Is Not a Crime'

Returning to the idea of hope, O'Donnell told Pope Francis that so many people have "found hope" through him because "you have been more open and accepting perhaps than other previous leaders of the Church."

"You have to be open to everything. The Church is like that: Everyone, everyone, everyone," he replied. "'That so-and-so is a sinner?' Me too, I am a sinner. Everyone! The Gospel is for everyone. If the Church places a customs officer at the door, that is no longer the Church of Christ. Everyone."

He added that he finds hope in "everything."

"You see tragedies, but you also see so many beautiful things," he explained. "You see heroic mothers, heroic men, men who have hopes and dreams, women who look to the future. That gives me a lot of hope."

The 60 Minutes interview, which aired on the CBS Television Network, will stream on Paramount+.

CBS News will also air an hourlong special with Pope Francis on Monday, May 20, at 10 p.m. EST on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+.

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