Pope Francis has indicated he is ready to lead a revolution on the Catholic Church’s attitude to contraception, sex outside marriage and marriage annulment.

The Argentinean born Pontiff has warned the Church not to be afraid of change and defensive on key areas ahead of the Synod.

The Irish Times reports that he made his remarks just days after marrying 20 couples in the Basilica of St Peter’s.

These included people who had had children out of wedlock, others who had divorced and others again who had had their marriages annulled.

The Pope spoke out after one leading cleric warned that Cardinals opposed to change are readying themselves for ‘ideological warfare’ at the upcoming Synod.

The paper reports that his latest comments look ‘suspiciously like a pre-Synod manoeuvre’ as he indicated he wants the Catholic Church to seriously reassess key teaching with regard to marriage.

The Synod is regarded as the Catholic Church parliament and is due to meet in a fortnight to discuss a range of family related matters including contraception, same-sex marriage and marriage annulment.

The Pontiff said: “Faced with so many pastoral requirements, faced with the requests of men and women, we run the risk of becoming afraid and of turning in on ourselves in a fearful and defensive manner.

“This fear leads to the temptation to be self-satisfied and to clericalism, to codify the faith in rules and instructions just as was done by the Pharisees, the scribes and the doctors of law in Jesus’ time.

“It is not the pope’s job to offer a full and detailed assessment of contemporary reality but he invites all the Church to grasp the signs of the times.”

The Irish Times reports that there seems little doubt that his words are in reference to a public theological skirmish between two sets of cardinals, particularly with regard to the indissolubility of church marriage, the ban on divorcees and remarried receiving the sacrament of communion.

Five senior Church figures, including Australian Cardinal George Pell and German Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation For The Doctrine of The Faith, are to launch a book, Remaining With Christ’s Truth, which suggests that certain keystones of Catholic teaching are not up for grabs.

The report adds that the book is seen by some as a reply to a call by German Cardinal Walter Kasper, made with the full approval of the pope, for some way in which the divorced and remarried might be permitted to receive communion.

The Pope has also announced the creation of a Special Commission For The Study of The Reform of The Matrimonial Processes in Canon Law.

Cardinal Kasper said in an interview this weekend: “They [the Cardinals opposed to change] want ideological warfare at the next Synod.

“The doctrine of the Church is open, but they want a crystalline truth. When they attack me, their real target is not me but rather the pope himself.”