Pope Francis has said the Catholic Church is too focused on preaching about abortion, gay people and contraception and needs to become more merciful.
He warned that the Church's moral structure could "fall like a house of cards" unless it changed.
The Pope used the first major interview of his papacy to explain comments he made in July about homosexuality.
He told a Jesuit magazine the Church must show balance and "heal wounds".
The pontiff used the 12,000-word interview with La Civilta Cattolicato to set out his priorities as Pope, acknowledge his own shortcomings and open up about his cultural interests.'Freshness and fragrance'
His vision for relegating the Catholic Church's reliance on rules marks a contrast to the priorities of his predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who saw doctrine as the paramount guide for clergy
"The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently," Francis said.
"We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."
Instead, he said, the Catholic Church must work to heal the wounds of its faithful and seek out those who have been excluded or have fallen away.
"It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars," he said. "You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else."