Pope Francis: I will not bow to conservative critics

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican.Reuters

Pope Francis has pledged he will not be deterred from making changes by the strong rhetoric of the ultra-conservative wing of the Catholic Church. But nor will he chop off their heads, he said. 

There are some people in the Church who say no to everything, he admitted.

He will not live in fear of them or go around looking over his shoulder, but nor will he fight them. "I don't chop off heads. That was never my style. I've never liked doing that," he said. He said he does not and has never liked conflict.

Pope Francis was talking in an interview Joaquín Morales Solá of La Nación in Argentina. 

He said they had a job to do, just as he did, but he wants "an open, comprehensive Church" that walks with wounded families. "They will say no to everything. I continue on my way without looking over my shoulder. I repeat: I reject the conflict. I want a Church that is open, understanding, that accompanies wounded families," he said. 

Using an analogy from trade of carpentry, and one that is often used in Rome when describing how to resolve problems by promoting people to positions in the Vatican, he continued: "Nails are removed by applying pressure to the top. Or, you set them aside to rest when the age of retirement arrives."

He also said his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI how has difficulties getting around but "his head and his memory are intact, perfect."

He also defended Benedict's resignation, which he said clarified the problems of the Church. "It had nothing to do with personal things. It was an act of government, his last act of government."

Solá's questions were mainly about Mauricio Macri, current President of Argentina, who was Mayor of Buenos Aires when the Pope was the city's Archbishop. Pope Francis denied that relations between him and Macri were chilly. In 2009, after Argentina's first gay marriage was celebrated in Buenos Aires about a year before gay marriage was legally allowed, the future Pope warned that it set a "serious precedent".

The Pope admitted there had been issues between them but these were resolved.

"We had some other problems, which we spoke about privately and which we resolved privately. And the two of us always respected the privacy agreement."